Chelsea and Liverpool were involved in great cup-matches over the years, and this one promises to be yet another cracker. Jose Mourinho has always given an extra preference to the League Cup, the trophy he won with Chelsea in his first season beating Liverpool, and with Chelsea taking a handsome lead in the Premier League, the Portuguese is expected to field a strong side for this tie.
Rodgers’ Liverpool side have always improved in the second half of the season, and the results are evident with Reds rejuvenated having lost only once in their last 14 matches. Chelsea on the other hand have dismantled Swansea City 5-0 in their last match, and are leading the league table five points clear of Manchester City.
Rodgers needs to make some bold decisions tonight. Here are some of my points/observations which I think the team selection should be based on:
- Should Liverpool stick with the same team that defeated Aston Villa?
- Borini out? Gerrard in?
- Manquillo to be used as defensive protection for Eden Hazard?
In a situation like this, Rodgers should go with experience and that’s why having Gerrard back is key. Last time Liverpool allowed Nemanja Matic to dominate the midfield that cost them 3 points at Anfield; the Reds must learn from the past mistakes. Markovic can be used there in case the skipper starts from the bench.
Markovic has been brilliant in the last few matches and the Serbian is bubbling with confidence at the moment. But Rodgers needs to be practical here. Eden Hazard is the main threat for Liverpool and he starts from the left; therefore, starting with Markovic in that role could be a huge risk. One has to understand that covering that role against Villa and Sunderland is one thing, putting a defensive shift against a world class winger like Hazard is different.
Javier Manquillo can be a good option. The young Spaniard may not be an adventurous full-back, but he has shown excellent defensive qualities time to time this season.
Prediction: Big matches are hard to predict, but keeping in mind Liverpool’s impressive recent form, home factor, I would go with a narrow 2-1 victory for the home side.