Chelsea (a) Preview

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Fresh off the back of their first league victory of the New Year over Sunderland at Anfield, can Rafa Benitez’s men resurrect their season with victory at fortress Stamford Bridge?

The home side are 75 games unbeaten under former manager Jose Mourinho and current coach Avram Grant. Grant lines up against Benitez for the first time since taking over from Rafa’s old sparring partner.

Liverpool have struggled away to Chelsea in recent times – not since January 2004 have the Reds come away with three points, courtesy of Bruno Cheyrou’s goal. But Avram Grant’s men are missing several key players which could include John Terry, Frank Lampard and Didier Drogba. Having been held by Portsmouth at Fratton Park on Saturday, can Liverpool cause an upset?

Liverpool are without top scorer and record signing Fernando Torres after the Spaniard limped out of Spain’s match during the international week – much to Benitez’s pleasure, and with Andiy Voronin already sidelined, it leaves Rafa with only Peter Crouch and the out of form Dirk Kuyt as first choice forwards. Benitez could however choose to play the pacy Ryan Babel up front, or captain Gerrard in an advanced midfield role.

Daniel Agger remains sidelined with a metatarsal injury, despite returning to training this week, Xabi Alonso is suspended, and full backs Fabio Aurelio and Alvaro Arbeloa are also sidelined.

For Chelsea, midfielder Frank Lampard (thigh) may return and centre-back Ricardo Carvalho is back after a ban. Andriy Shevchenko (back) and John Terry (foot) are again out, while Mikel John Obi should be available after Africa Cup of Nations duty.

Liverpool’s first home of the season between these two sides saw visitors Chelsea luckily scrape a point after a fortuitous penalty was awarded by Rob Styles after Fernando Torres had opened the scoring. In the Carling Cup quarter final at Stamford Bridge, Chelsea again recorded a home win over Liverpool 2-0. While last season Drogba’s goal proved the only one as Chelsea won 1-0.

The match is live on Sky Sports, 4pm kick off.

Referee: Mike Riley


Chelsea (from): Cech, Cudicini, Hilario, Ferreira, Belletti, Carvalho, Ben-Haim, Alex, A Cole, Bridge, Ivanovic, Lampard, Makelele, Obi, J Cole, Wright-Phillips, Anelka, Pizarro, Malouda, Ballack, Sidwell.

Liverpool (from): Reina, Finnan, Carragher, Hyypia, Skrtel, Riise, Pennant, Mascherano, Gerrard, Babel, Benayoun, Kewell, Lucas, Crouch, Kuyt, Itandje.

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