Reds need to shake off the Blues
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