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Liverpool Vs Chelsea: Big Match Preview

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LIVE TEAM SHEET

Liverpool

Reina, Mascherano, Agger, Carragher, Kyrgiakos, Gerrard, Lucas, Aquilani, Maxi, Benayoun, Kuyt.

Subs: Cavalieri, Babel, Pacheco, Ngog, El Zhar, Degen, Ayala.

Chelsea

Cech, Ivanovic, Terry, Alex, Ashley Cole, Lampard, Ballack, Malouda, Kalou, Drogba, Anelka.

Subs: Hilario, Joe Cole, Zhirkov, Paulo Ferreira, Deco, Sturridge, Belletti.


Midfielder Maxi Rodriguez is likely to return to Liverpool's starting line-up for Sunday's visit of Chelsea in the Barclays Premier League.

The Argentina international was ineligible for Thursday's Europa League semi-final exit to Atletico Madrid and so will be a welcome addition of fresh legs to an injury-hit squad.

Striker Dirk Kuyt recovered from a calf injury to face Atletico but his fitness and that of a number of players - including midfielder Javier Mascherano who was substituted late on against the Spaniards - will be assessed.

Forward David Ngog's hamstring injury meant he never left the bench on Thursday and doubts remain about his fitness.

Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez has warned the club's current - and prospective future - owners that without major investment they cannot continue to survive on their reputation alone.

While the likes of Manchester City, in particular, Aston Villa and Tottenham are likely to spend heavily in the coming months the Reds face another summer of uncertainty.

They are the outsiders in the battle for the fourth Champions League spot and without money to bolster a squad lacking in quality in numbers Liverpool are at risk of falling further off the pace and losing their manager and the few world-class players they do have.

Benitez has argued throughout the campaign that their second-place finish behind Manchester United last season was a result of the squad performing at their absolute maximum with no margin for error.

Without significant reinforcements the Spaniard believes it makes it almost impossible for them to challenge for the Barclays Premier League title never mind end a 20-year championship drought.

"At this moment the club has a big name and a big history and everyone is expecting us to be at the top," said Benitez.

"But in reality we don't have enough money so we have to manage the expectation."

Co-owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett officially put Liverpool up for sale a fortnight ago having admitted they had taken the club as far as they could.

The problem is, with #237million of debt, a new stadium to build and Benitez wanting a summer transfer budget of #70million, any new owner will have to have find something in the region of #600million just to even get things back on track.

And with the American owners holding out for the best possible price, although the #800million suggested by Hicks is a long way from a realistic valuation, the danger is Liverpool will by hamstrung by inertia while their rivals are making big plans.

"Jamie Carragher and Fernando Torres were talking about needing between three and five players and I agree with them," said Benitez, who continues to be linked with an end-of-season exit to Juventus.

"We will need those to have a stronger team.

"When I was asked about this I didn't say how much but a top-class player is around #15million so you can do the numbers - but it depends on the investors."

Chelsea coach Carlo Ancelotti has no fresh injury worries.

Captain John Terry will return to the side after missing the 7-0 victory over Stoke through suspension.

Midfielder John Obi Mikel has recovered from the ankle injury that forced him to miss that game.

Long-term absentees remain the same with midfielder Michael Essien (knee), right-back Jose Bosingwa (knee) and defender Ricardo Carvalho (ankle) still out.

Ancelotti did not look like a man ready to crack under the intense pressure of this season's title run-in as he shrugged off suggestions that the "old pals act" could provide one more twist in the tale.

Chelsea face Liverpool knowing nothing but victory will keep their title hopes on track.

Manchester United then kick-off at 4pm at Sunderland, a club managed by former Old Trafford captain Steve Bruce.

The two games have thrown up a number of tantalising issues for the conspiracy theorists, but Ancelotti is mindful not to get drawn into them.

He dismissed suggestions that Liverpool would not try hard enough to beat his side because doing so would open the door for rivals United to surpass their total of 18 titles.

Ancelotti was also non-plussed by the possibility that Bruce would do his old mentor Sir Alex Ferguson a favour at the Stadium of Light.

"I don't think about this," said Ancelotti. "I think that Sunderland will do their best to beat United and Liverpool will do the same against us.

"Every team has respect for this Premier League and every team has to do their best until the end of the matches.

"We have to pay attention because Liverpool are a strong team and it's very difficult to win at Anfield, but we have to try. We need to have three more points after Sunday."

Copyright (c) PA Sport 2009, All Rights Reserved.

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Topics:
Football
Chelsea
Premier League
Liverpool

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