It was back in April that Liverpool and Chelsea last met at Anfield, with an unforgettable Steven Gerrard slip seemingly costing the Merseysiders the match, and the title.
However, much has changed in the six months between the fixture that ended Liverpool's title dreams in April and the game between second and third from last season's Premier League table on Saturday. On one hand, Chelsea have gone from strength to strength by purchasing world class players such as Diego Costa, Cesc Fabregas and Filipe Luis as well as bringing Stamford Bridge legend Didier Drogba back to the club.
However at Liverpool, the high profile departure of Luis Suarez and the failure to recruit any players who are proven at the highest level has led to a desperate search for form, which has led to many big decisions having to be made by Brendan Rodgers.
Whilst last season Brendan Rodgers had a hard time picking an eleven from a squad full of in form players, he now faces a struggle to pick the least out of form players. Not one player has performed consistently well for Liverpool this season.
Dejan Lovren was recruited from Southampton for £20 million over the summer, and has featured in almost every game for Liverpool this season. However, he has done nothing so far to help shore up the Liverpool defence, and looks to be no improvement on the forgotten Daniel Agger, who was sold to Brondby in the transfer window. Lovren was left out against Real Madrid at the Bernabeu, and was replaced by Kolo Toure.
Whilst Toure put in his finest display in a Liverpool shirt to date against the current European champions, it cannot be forgotten that he was the man at fault for the inexplicable own goal at Craven Cottage, and assisted Victor Anichebe's goal in the 1-1 draw at the Hawthorns last season. Given the same chance, it is highly unlikely that the prolific Diego Costa would do anything other than score. This is a huge selection crisis for Brendan Rodgers, and one that he must get right if Liverpool are to get a result from Chelsea.
Mario Balotelli vs Fabio Borini
It is a battle of the Italians for the spot upo front against Chelsea. Whilst Rickie Lambert may offer more effort than Balotelli, he is not nearly enough of a threat to a solid Chelsea back four and should not be considered to start against the Londoners. If all Brendan Rodgers wants up front is a global name, then Mario Balotelli is the obvious choice.
However, if he wants a player that will try to run in behind the Chelsea defence, as well as generally putting more of a shift in for the team, the answer has to be Fabio Borini. The last thing Liverpool need against the strongest team in the league at the moment is for their striker to simply stand around and look as if he has better things to do, which is why Mario Balotelli should not play.
It is going to be one of Liverpool's hardest tests at Anfield this season, along with hosting Real Madrid, and on current form, I can only see a Chelsea win.
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