Reds need to shake off the Blues

The Star Early Edition - - SPORT -

LON­DON: Af­ter a week in which they were knocked out of both do­mes­tic cup com­pe­ti­tions, slump­ing Liver­pool must now pass a crit­i­cal test if they want to stay in the Premier League ti­tle hunt.

The Reds host lead­ers Chelsea tonight as they look to steady a ship that’s taken on plenty of wa­ter lately.

Juer­gen Klopp’s team have slipped to fourth in the ta­ble, 10 points be­hind the Blues.

They’ve won just one of eight games over­all this month and have lost three straight at home over the past eight days.

Among those are losses to Southamp­ton in the semi­fi­nals of the League Cup last Wed­nes­day and Cham­pi­onship side Wolver­hamp­ton in the FA Cup on the week­end.

And now Chelsea come to An­field, where an­other de­feat would give Liver­pool their long­est home los­ing streak since 1923.

Adding to the pres­sure is the fact that the Reds last did the dou­ble over Chelsea in 2011/12 and that the Lon­don­ers are un­beaten in their last four league trips to An­field.

“When­ever a re­sult doesn’t go your way, all you want is to make it right as quickly as pos­si­ble,” de­fender Joe Gomez said on the club’s web­site.

“We’ve got the chance to go and do that (to­day) but at the same time we have to try to keep com­po­sure and try not to put too much pres­sure (on our­selves) – al­though ob­vi­ously there is – to get the re­sult.”

The Reds did beat Chelsea 2-1 at Stam­ford Bridge in Septem­ber and the Blues have re­sponded by win­ning 15 of 17 in the league since.

And even though Liver­pool are strug­gling at the mo­ment, An­to­nio Conte isn’t tak­ing any­thing for granted.

“Liver­pool are like a wounded an­i­mal, for sure,” the Chelsea boss said.

“We must pay great at­ten­tion be­cause when you ar­rive af­ter three de­feats, you are very dan­ger­ous.

“Liver­pool now is very tough for us be­cause they had three bad de­feats and for this rea­son, their fo­cus will be very high.

“We must know this and pre­pare in the right way.”

Should Chelsea slip up, Arse­nal and Tot­ten­ham – the teams right be­hind them in the ta­ble – can make up ground.

The north Lon­don ri­vals both meet teams in the bot­tom of the league, with the Gun­ners host­ing Wat­ford and Spurs vis­it­ing bot­tom side Sun­der­land.

Fifth-placed Manch­ester City could also jump above Liver­pool into the fi­nal Cham­pi­ons League qual­i­fy­ing place with a win over West Ham to­mor­row and a Reds’ loss. City have beaten the Ham­mers twice al­ready this sea­son, in­clud­ing a 5-0 thrash­ing in the FA Cup ear­lier this month.

Manch­ester United, two points be­hind City in sixth, look to stay in the hunt for a Cham­pi­ons League place when they host Hull City.

The two met last Thurs­day in the sec­ond leg of the their League Cup semi-fi­nal and even though Hull won the match 2-1 to end United’s 17-match un­beaten run, Jose Mour­inho’s side went through to the fi­nal 3-2 on ag­gre­gate.

In other games, Bournemouth host Crys­tal Palace, Le­ices­ter visit Burn­ley, Mid­dles­brough face West Bromwich and Swansea play Southamp­ton in Tues­day’s other matches while Ever­ton are away to Stoke on Wed­nes­day. – dpa

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