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Saturday, October 25, 2008

Chelsea vs Liverpool EPL 08-09: Injury News

The top two clubs of premier league table lock horns tomorrow in a mouthwatering battle. Though Liverpool could manage only 4 points from 6 games against the ‘Big Four’ clubs last season, the Reds can take inspiration from their morale-booster home victory over Manchester United last month. Chelsea, on the other hand, has been in a high-flying form now and will go into the match on the back of six clean sheets in a row. Moreover, the Blues are now undefeated in 74 league matches at home, a rare feat for any club in any football league.

Both the sides are confident enough to pull off a victory and there are many who consider this as a deciding match of the season. Both Chelsea and Liverpool are now leading the point table with equal 20 points from 8 matches, though Chelsea holds the top place on better goal difference. Liverpool showed their mental strength by pulling off two excellent come-back victories, while Chelsea stunned all by remaining at the top keeping six clean sheets consecutively, despite missing more than half of the regular team players through injury for the last few weeks. So, there is no lack of confidence in both sides.

However, both Chelsea and Liverpool are facing some injury woes in the lead up to the hard-fought encounter tomorrow. Liverpool fans can feel happy to know that two influential midfielders- Captain Steven Gerrard and Xabi Alondo, who were limped off during Wednesday’s 1-1 draw at Atletico Madrid in Champion League- have shaken off their injury and are ready to feature against Chelsea. However, striker Robbie Keane is a major doubt for the Chelsea match as he has not fully recovered from his groin injury that he picked up during the 1-1 draw against Atletico Madrid. Most importantly, Liverpool’s key striker Fernando Torres, who missed the Champions League match against his former club Atletico Madrid, is also doubtful for the match. Torres is very close to full recovery from hamstring injury that picked up while representing Spain in world cup qualifier recently. However, manager Rafael Benitez might risk his top gun against Chelsea, considering the importance of the match.

Chelsea was badly hit by injury over the last one month as they had to feature a second string team both in domestic league as well as in Europe and it was really a stern test for their new manager Luiz Felipe Scolari to keep the Blues at the top of the table and the Brazilian passed with flying colors as Chelsea looked more formidable without the likes of John Terry, Ricardo Carvalho, Deco, Joe Cole, Ashley Cole, Michael Ballack, Michael Essien and Didier Drogba. Now, most of them have returned to action recently and manager Scolari will have most options at hand. However, still, Chelsea is missing a number of players including Didier Drogba, Michael Ballack and Michael Essien. Joe Cole and Ashley Cole are fit and might feature in the visit of Liverpool.

Well, I think, injury will not deplete the attraction of the high-profile match by any means. There is hardly any doubt that Stamford Bridge is going to turn into a battle field on Sunday when Chelsea and Liverpool will vie not only for three points but also for a morale-booster victory that would definitely put the winning team firmly on course of retaining the premier league title.

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