Chelsea have endured their worst start in recent memory and no club has ever qualified for the Champions League after this bad a start. On the other hand, Liverpool’s new manager, their own bad start aside, has the right tactics to play and beat a team like Chelsea. Here’s why.
Struggling champions Chelsea, fronted by beleaguered manager Jose Mourinho and currently languishing in 15th place in the English Premier League, will take on Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool, fresh from their first win under their new German boss during the week.
They say it’s better to be extraordinary than ordinary in life, but this Saturday afternoon at Stamford Bridge, being a normal one would seem to be preferable to being a special one.
Klopp, the former Borussia Dortmund manager, made a point of underlying his normality in the climate of celebrity managers, and he faces arguably the most show-stopping manager of his generation. But, if you believe the rumours, the Mourinho’s show could soon be drawing to a close, and Klopp could be the one to bring the curtain down. And not for the first time.
Five defeats so far in the English top flight, with their defence of the Carling Cup ending in miserable fashion during the week at the hands of Stoke; Chelsea are reeling and without direction. What was very recently an iron battleship of relentless determination is now a creaking rowboat, and the water is rising.
With striker Diego Costa a doubt for the game with a rib injury, Eden Hazard continuing to jog on the peripheries, and a defence scared of its own shadow; Chelsea are arguably there for the taking.
Klopp, having taken the reins at Anfield following Brendan Rodgers’ departure, is unbeaten in his first three games as Liverpool manager. Beating Bournemouth 1-0 in the Carling Cup midweek was the perfect warmup to Saturday’s showdown, with the Reds showing newfound grit and endeavour.
The industry of their central midfield against the struggling Nemanja Matic and potentially Ramires will be key, while the individual performances of Christian Benteke and Phillippe Coutinho have to be high throughout the 90. Klopp is a confidence builder, and he’ll have his players riding the crest of a wave heading down to West London.
And while Liverpool haven’t beaten Chelsea in their last six encounters, in Klopp, they have a manager who knows how to topple Jose Mourinho.
History is very much on the side of the German rather than the Portuguese. As Dortmund and Real Madrid managers respectively, Klopp has faced Mourinho on four occasions, with two wins, one draw and a loss under his belt. Indeed that solitary loss, a 2-0 Champions League semi-final second leg tie in 2013, still proved to be enough to take his Dortmund side through to the final, having convincingly won the first leg 4-1.
Jose Mourinho didn’t last too much longer in Madrid, having failed to deliver La Decima in his third season in the Spanish capital.
Dortmund tackled the fearsome attacking threat of Madrid by matching the Spaniards’ style. Mourinho prefers a counter attacking game, allowing opposition errors to hand the initiative to his sides. Dortmund had the defensive structure and presence of mind up top, serving up a horror evening for Real at the Westfalenstadion, with four-goal Robert Lewandowski the chief tormenter.
Two years on at Stamford Bridge and things are eerily similar. Klopp is once again the underdog facing a Mourinho under mounting pressure to deliver. There is little to be lost for Liverpool, and everything to gain. Freedom will be the optimum word for Klopp going into the game. Go out and impress.
Jose Mourinho, meanwhile, will struggle to downplay the importance for his side not to lose. But would a draw be enough for a stay of the axe?