Preview: Chelsea (h) – Rafa’s farewell?

chelsea liverpoolSpeculation is mounting that this will be the last time Rafa Benitez takes control of a Liverpool team at Anfield.

After 6 years in charge, the Spaniard looks set to part ways with the club he undoubtedly loves. There are questions over whether he will walk or be pushed but a betting man wouldn’t put money on him being here next season.

Benitez finds himself in a position where he cannot win in this game. Arriving so soon after the extra time defeat to Atletico and with a host of injuries, his team selection will be criticised if he rests players who are clearly tired from their midweek exploits.

Definitely out are Martin Skrtel, Emiliano Insua and Fabio Aurelio. Sotirios Krygiakos is likely to come back in the centre of defence, meaning Daniel Agger and Glen Johnson can return to left and right back respectively. That allows Javier Mascherano to return to midfield and add some bite in their – something many fans felt we were missing on Thursday night when Benitez solved one problem by creating three others.

Steven Gerrard should be okay to start, although he didn’t look fit – or interested – on Thursday. Dirk Kuyt shook off a calf injury to play 120 minutes against Atletico. Alberto Aquilani enjoyed his best performance in a red shirt so he’ll no doubt be dropped for this. Maxi Rodriguez is available again.

Chelsea are, of course, looking to maintain their position at the top of the Premier League and move further ahead of Man United – who face Sunderland after this. They’ve had a week’s rest after putting seven past Stoke last week.

A year ago Liverpool were involved in the title race, this year they’re involved again just not in the winning of it for themselves. Instead they’re 24 points less off their final points tally last season. How times change.

Kick off is 1:30pm, Sky Sports (UK).