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Brendan Rodgers confident ahead of Chelsea clash

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Brendan Rodgers is confident of Liverpool seeing off Chelsea in the League Cup semi-final, however has admitted it will be no easy task and that the Blues have "quality in all areas."

The Reds go into Tuesday night's clash in excellent form, unbeaten in their last six Premier League games after beating Aston Villa 2-0 at the weekend.

The five-time European Cup winners face a serious step up in class against the West London club, who are five points clear at the summit of the top flight and thrashed Swansea City 5-0 at the Liberty Stadium on Saturday.

The pair met earlier in the season at Anfield and despite the home side starting brightly and taking the lead thanks to Emre Can's goal, it was Jose Mourinho's side who took all three points winning the clash 2-1.

Rodgers is yet to win a trophy on Merseyside and will be desperate to win the competition that the club last won in 2012 and feels Liverpool can win the tie over two legs and advance to Wembley.

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“We actually spoke about that this morning. It is a different type of game, where you don't need to open up too much," the Northern Irishman said during his pre-match press conference.

“Of course you want to focus on winning the game, but the tie is not won or lost in the first leg.

“It's important that we retain our confidence. We know we are going to have to deal with pressure at moments in the game, but the most important thing for me coming out of this game is making sure we're in a good position for the second leg.

“It's not a threat for us, it's an opportunity to get into a final. And we know we've got to beat the best teams to do that.

“They're very strong, with quality in all areas. It is going to be a good test for us. But in their last six games, they've won two, drawn two and lost two. We'll look on it as an opportunity at home.

“But if we don't win the game, then it is not all lost. We can still go to Stamford Bridge and win, that's for sure.”

“They've been there or thereabouts for the last 10 years,” he said. “It's a very experienced squad, with players that have been around the block and understand how to win.

“And when you add to that a world class midfielder in Cesc Fabregas, and then bring in Diego Costa at the top end of the field, scoring goals and working his socks off, it is clear to see the difference those players have made.

Right Time

For Liverpool, they could not be meeting Chelsea at a better time.

Granted, the Blues' squad oozes class in all areas, however we could see Mourinho put out a weakened side.

The league-leaders may have a five point gap between second placed Manchester City, however, that space could shrink in a matter of weeks. The former Real Madrid manager would not want to take his foot off the gas and give the Citizens even a glimmer of hope.

Owner Roman Abramovich is all about winning trophies, but if had to cast aside one piece of silverware, it would be the League Cup. The Russian billionaire's most desired possession is the Champions League and with Chelsea's last 16 clash with PSG fast approaching, he will want all his best troops available for that game.

The Reds have really began to play as a unit of late and it seems as if their early season troubles are behind them.

Rodgers has reverted to a defence of three of employed wing-backs and there is much more shape and purpose about the Liverpool side, who are looking like the side of last season.

Steven Gerrard purposely missed Saturday's game against Villa to be fit for this tie and his presence in the Liverpool side will be massive and he will be ready for the big occasion. 

That's added to a refreshed Raheem Sterling and the return of Adam Lallana who's been out injured for the last few weeks, who really started to hit form prior to being side-lined.

History

There is plenty of history between the two side's over the past few years in cup competitions, were there has been so much at stake every time they've clashed.

In 2005, they met in the Champions League semi-final and after a goal-less draw at Stamford Bridge, Luis Garcia's fourth minute strike saw Liverpool advance to Istanbul, where they won the competition for a fifth time. 

A year later, they met at Old Trafford in the FA Cup semi-final and it was the Merseyside club who once again advanced to the final with a 2-1 win.

Two years later there was a case of deja vu when the two teams drew each other once again in the European Cup semi-final. Chelsea won the first leg 1-0 and travelled to Anfield with confidence looking to qualify for the final of Europe's elite competition for the first time in their history.  

It wasn't to be as Daniel Agger's first-half goal made things all level and after a gruelling battle that went to extra-time, the Reds reached the final for the second time in three years on penalties.

In 2009, they drew each other in the Champions League and Chelsea finally got their revenge. They brushed Liverpool aside in the first-leg at Anfield winning 2-0 and then a 4-4 epic encounter in the Capital saw Rafa Benitez's side crashing out of the competition.

The last time these two met in a cup competition was in the FA Cup final in 2012, which Chelsea took 2-1.

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Topics:
Football
Premier League
Liverpool
Brendan Rodgers

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