Chelsea play Liverpool tomorrow night in the second leg of the Champions League quarter final, and, pending no large miracle happening, the winners will be facing Barcelona in the semi finals, another familiar occurrence for us.
The waiter is in unfamiliar territory, having to juggle more then one competition at once is proving to take it’s toll on Liverpool, there was no chance to rest key players in the build up to the first leg last week, as for the first time in all his years of squaring up to Chelsea, Liverpool hadn’t already blown their league campaign.
We, of course, have our own problems, there is only One England Captain but unfortunately he won’t be organising the defence tomorrow, something which has proven detrimental in previous league campaigns, the game that highlights this most for me was Aston Villa at home last season, whereby the pairing of Carvalho and Alex, along with Cech, A. Cole, and Ferreira let in four goals.
Saturday saw us let in three or more goals at home for the first time since the aforementioned Villa match, but if there was ever a positive to take from eight minutes of pandemonium, it is that hopefully it will keep our players feet on the ground, to stop any complacency creeping in should we take a goal lead.
Ashley Cole will need to be cautious at the back, knowing that if he is booked and we advance to the next round, he will be out of the first leg, Nicolas Anelka will also face suspension should he receive a yellow card.
For Liverpool it is simple, they have to score three goals, anything short of this will result in being knocked out, even this may not prove to be enough.
The tie is by no means over, and no-one should be jumping the gun, Barca have booked their place in the next round, but the road for Chelsea is not so clear cut. This is a Liverpool side who put four past Man United at Old Trafford, and at Anfield put four past Real Madrid.
Liverpool are normally fresher in the second leg against us, but this time fewer changes were made by Benitez against Blackburn on Saturday then in our previous CL knockout encounters. There were ten players rested in the match before the penalty shoot-out in 2007, a luxury he cannot afford whilst battling for more then one trophy.
Mascherano, suspended for the first leg, is back in the Liverpool squad for Tuesday, Alvaro Arbeloa and Andrea Dossena are both on a booking, but Steven Gerrard isn’t, allowing him at least one compulsory slip or fall in the penalty area.
Let’s not be complacent about tomorrow night, let’s not get ahead of ourselves, there is still a lot of work to be done, we are up against the leagues top scorers, we are missing the England Captain, and we are up against a Liverpool team who will surely be going all out from the beginning.
The blue half of the Shed End needs to drown out the other side of the divide, and lets get behind the team, Bruce Buck today has come out and said that Hiddink won’t be staying past the end of the season, let’s crank up the atmosphere, if Hiddink’s going to leave, let’s make it as hard a decision as possible by making nights like tomorrow special.