Chelsea Preview: Kuyt returns for Reds

Dirk Kuyt returns to the Liverpool squad for the visit of Chelsea to Anfield on Sunday afternoon (4pm kick off).

The Dutchman has been sidelined with an ankle injury picked up on international duty last month, shortly after recovering from a shoulder injury.

Initially it was feared the 30 year old could even have been sidelined until next year, but again he has recovered much faster than first anticipated and returns for the key clash.

Speaking as the guest on channel five’s coverage of the Napoli game on Thursday, Kuyt told how he would be taking part in full training on Friday and Saturday with a view to being in the squad on Sunday.

“I have worked really hard with the medical team,” Kuyt explained. “I am quite happy with them because I have recovered quickly.”

Kuyt’s return will be a huge boost to Liverpool, with the Dutchman having enjoyed success against the Blues in the past and his hardwork down the right handside could help nullify the threat of Ashley Cole from left back.

Joe Cole misses the opportunity to face his former club, as does Yossi Benayoun who moved in the opposite direction this summer. Cole’s absence means manager Roy Hodgson will have to change the side which started the Bolton and Blackburn wins. The obvious solution being Kuyt replacing Cole with Maxi Rodriguez moving to the left hand side of midfield.

What will be interesting is whether Hodgson starts Glen Johnson at right back. The England international made his comeback from injury against Napoli, but having him in the side would mean dropping Martin Skrtel or Soto Kyrgiakos and moving Jamie Carragher to centre back.

Carragher has been tormented by Drogba in these games in the past so will need the help of either Soto or Skrtel – the latter of whom has done a job on the Ivorian frontman before but also been equally outplayed and outmuscled by him too.

With Ashley Cole’s pace down our right side, Hodgson would be a brave man to match Carragher up against the former Arsenal full back.

Feb 01, 2009 - Liverpool, United Kingdom - Premier League: Liverpool 2 V 0 Chelsea.Liverpool's FERNANDO TORRES first goal celebration Photo via Newscom

Also out for Liverpool are Fabio Aurelio, Daniel Agger and Ryan Babel. Fernando Torres will, of course, return to lead the attack.

For Chelsea, they are without Frank Lampard and fellow midfielder Michael Essien is rated doubtful.

This fixture last season ended in a 2-0 defeat on the last home game of the season, Steven Gerrard memorably playing in Drogba for the opening goal in what was a dismal end to the campaign and Rafa Benitez’s last time in charge at Anfield.

After his midweek heroics in the Europa League, Gerrard will be hoping to make avenge for that memory – and in doing so keep the run of three straight wins going.