Chelsea vs Liverpool
Chelsea and Liverpool have both had their share of disappointment in recent matches. The Blues have been unable to rediscover their early-season magic as they’ve struggled to find any sort of consistency.
Meanwhile, Liverpool have lost two of their last three matches after looking unbeatable for most of the campaign. After showing some cracks in their armour, they finally lost their first Premier League match of the season as they suffered a shock 3-0 defeat to Watford.
The two sides will now look to put those problems behind them as they clash in the FA Cup, where a place in the quarter-finals is on the line.
But despite being at the top of the Premier league table, Liverpool are the underdogs according to the FA Cup 2020 tips as it remains to be seen just how serious they are about actually winning the tournament.
Chelsea problems still unsolved
Chelsea’s impressive start to the season seems like such a long time ago now. These days, Frank Lampard’s men can’t seem to string a couple of good performances together. As a result, they are no longer locks for fourth place and are also close to crashing out of Europe.
The defence has continued to be a major weakness. Chelsea have failed to keep a clean sheet in each of their last eight matches, where they have won just twice, with three draws and three defeats.
They were woefully outclassed by Bayern Munich, who won 3-0 at Stamford Bridge in their Champions League round of 16 first leg. And over the weekend, they couldn’t contain a Bournemouth side that had been struggling for goals for most of the season.
Marcos Alonso, who was the villain against Bayern after his late sending off, redeemed himself by bagging a brace, including the equaliser in the 85th minute. Alonso has been Chelsea’s most in-form goalscorer with three in his last three matches.
With Tammy Abraham struggling to regain his early-season form due to injuries, Chelsea have at least been getting goals from other parts of the team. Aside from Alonso, fellow defenders Cesar Azpilicueta, Fiyako Tomori, and Antonio Rudiger have also found the back of the net in recent games.
Lampard has not fielded his full-strength side in their first two FA Cup matches, with Michy Batshuayi, Callum Hudson-Odoi, and Pedro forming the starting front three in both ties. However, he might choose a much stronger XI with a place in the last eight a real possibility.
Will Klopp continue to play the kids?
At long last, Liverpool are in the midst of their first real rough patch in what has been a brilliant season. After suffering a first-leg defeat to Atletico Madrid in the Champions League, they suffered their first Premier League defeat of the season at the hands of Watford.
The warning signs were there for Liverpool, who laboured to narrow victories against relegation strugglers Norwich and West Ham in their prior two Premier League matches. And finally, all of the physical and mental exhaustion caught up to them at Vicarage Road.
In his post-match comments, manager Jurgen Klopp feels Liverpool can now play “free” once again following the defeat, which goes to show just how taxing their recent 18-match undefeated run was.
But while Klopp will be eager to get his side sorted out, it remains to be seen whether he will use the FA Cup to do so. Klopp has not shown much importance in the competition as he’s fielded significantly understrength sides against both Everton and Shrewsbury.
Young midfielder Curtis Jones has arguably been the star of the Reds’ FA Cup campaign thus far. The teenager has already created a couple of memorable FA Cup 2020 highlights and looks likely to get a run-out once again, along with reserve forwards Takumi Minamino and Divock Origi, who have also started all three of their FA Cup matches.
Chelsea and Liverpool have historically been quite competitive in head-to-heads. Since 1993, the two sides have played 74 times, with the Blues holding a slight 29-26 edge.
However, Liverpool have cut into that advantage after winning their last three meetings against Chelsea. That includes their 2-1 win in their league visit to Stamford Bridge this season.
Trent Alexander-Arnold and Roberto Firmino gave the Reds a commanding 2-0 lead after just half an hour. N’Golo Kante pulled one back in the second half, but Liverpool hung on despite a late scare.
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