Liverpool have sweet revenge in sight, BVB to arrest rot

A lot has changed for the worse since the harsh April fixture between these two sides. On that day, Liverpool were gunning for the title, Chelsea had surrendered the dream, but wanted to draw last blood.
Raheem Sterling (left) and Glen Johnson share a joke as Liverpool prepare to host Jose Mourinho's side. (Internet photo)
Raheem Sterling (left) and Glen Johnson share a joke as Liverpool prepare to host Jose Mourinho's side. (Internet photo)

Saturday

Liverpool        2-1       Chelsea           2.45pm

A lot has changed for the worse since the harsh April fixture between these two sides. On that day, Liverpool were gunning for the title, Chelsea had surrendered the dream, but wanted to draw last blood.

They did… thanks to Steven Gerrard’s now infamous slip. Liverpool went on to lose the title in the most painful manner, Chelsea finished third behind Liverpool. However, the departure of Luis Suarez alone has seen Anfield drop from being title contender to mid-table mire.

It gets worse that the players they signed have failed to gel, while Gerrard is probably nursing aching gouts. Lunchtime will be the hottest day at Anfield since April and this is a game Brendan Rodgers must win to get back his grooves.

Unfortunately, without Daniel Sturridge, Liverpool look far from being able to do that. The new players, too, will not have the revenge DNA running in their blood, so it will take the true Stevie G to inspire that spirit in them.

Chelsea are bristling with confidence and are looking to be runaway leaders, dreaming of invincibility and much more. Mourinho’s well-balanced Blues are four points clear of surprise package Southampton Saints and 12 ahead of Liverpool.

Brendan Rodgers has prepared for this fixture in the biggest of manners—resting his stars for Tuesday’s trip to Real Madrid—and if his psychologist has done the homework, Mourinho’s seriousness could face a serious test.

If Liverpool have to beat Chelsea ever, this is their chance. Their dip in luck and form will favour them as Chelsea will approach the fixture with a different mindset. For once, let me not doubt Liverpool.      

Saturday

Man United     3-0       Palace 5pm  

I thought Man City would have placed four or more past Man United in last week’s derby but Van Gaal’s side put up a show—or was it City that was anonymous like they did on Wednesday against CSK Moscow?

A lot of comparisons are already being drawn between Van Gaal and his predecessor David Moyes. After ten games last season, Moyes had every stat in his favour when compared to Van Gaal.

 For a manager who spent so much to bring in world beaters like Angel Di Maria and Radamel Falcao, it is hard to fathom how United are not the ones breathing down Chelsea’s neck at the top of the log. United have no defence to talk home about.

It gets worse that even Rojo is not out for the long haul, while the likes of Smalling are proving smaller in mentality than their manager had expected.

Still, the visit of Crystal Palace is an opportunity for United to hit back and get the goals and the points to lift the team’s spirit. Rooney returned from suspension last week, and United will hope to recall Falcao from injury as well.

This should be an easy win despite Palace having the knack for playing their best away this season. The Eagles have picked up only one point from their last four league games, and have slipped down the table to just above the relegation zone.

Saturday

QPR    1-4       Man City         7.30pm

Manuel Pellegrini has been so calm amid the dip in form of his side. For a team with such an ensemble of world class players, City are playing third fiddle in the league with ten games played.

And it could get worse as the pressure builds on Pellegrini to salvage their Champions League dream after Wednesday’s night of shame at Etihad when CSK Moscow outsmarted City in every aspect on the pitch.

Pellegrini will demand a response on Saturday and, if his team plays anything like they can, they should be too strong for QPR. However, QPR are proving they are not in for the ride in the league. They use Bobby Zamora’s relentless runs and energy to run dry big sides and if the forward is deployed today, he could exploit City’s shaky defence. However, the champions will still be too strong for the newcomers.         

Sunday

Sunderland      0-2       Everton           3.30pm

Sunderland finally won on Monday after heavy defeats to Southampton and Arsenal. Gus Poyet will want to build on that to frustrate the inconsistent Everton. The Toffees have been like a beeping tail lights of a car. Their draw against Swansea last week was one such game in which the side has turned up looking indifferent to the form they put out last season when they finished fifth.

Roberto Martinez will have to get Samuel Eto’o more involved alongside Romelu Lukaku if the team is to show ambition in the final third. Against the Black Cats, all is possible for the Toffees at the Stadium of Light.

Sunday          

Swansea          2-3       Arsenal           6pm   

Something just does not add up for Arsenal. Whatever is with their defence, only Wenger can say. Against Anderlecht on Tuesday, the cracks in the back showed up in a manner we only thought Liverpool can pull off.

Leading 3-0, the Gunners found themselves exiting the pitch with just a point, a la Liverpool-West Brom at the end of last season. Arsenal had previously done the same, like the day they thumped Newcastle 4-0, only to draw the game after the Magpies hit back.

Gary Monk’s side have been on the slip and not even last week’s draw with Everton will serve as an inspiration for the side to show up against Arsenal. However, the Swans embody the same soccer philosophy like Wenger has instilled in Gunners over the years.

This should be an entertaining fixture. The Gunners have Arteta on form again, and Theo Walcott is back in the side alongside Aaron Ramsey. With the mercurial Alexis Sanchez stringing the attack, this should be Arsenal’s game to lose.

Saturday

Bundesliga

Dortmund           3-1          Gladbach  6.30pm

The Champions League glitz of Dortmund is pegged back in their Bundesliga quagmire. They are through to the last 16 of the European club competition, scoring with abandon, but when it comes to league form, Jurgen Klopp has run out of ideas.

Dortmund have just seven points on the board after 10 games – an all-time low for the club in the BL. In their previous 47 top-flight campaigns (converted to the three-points-per-win system where applicable), BVB have always had at least nine points at this stage.

To make it worse, the yellow submariners haven’t won any of their last three games against neighbours Borussia Moenchengladbach, most recently suffering back-to-back defeats.

 BVB have never lost more than three Bundesliga matches in a row against the Foals, with their last three-game losing streak coming between December 1980 and September 1981.

Gladbach won their last game in Dortmund 2-1 (March 2014), but BVB’s seven previous home games vs. the Foals all ended in victory, part of a 12-game unbeaten run. But things are not good at Westafalenstadio.

Klopp appears to have run out of ideas. Even the return of Marco Reus and Ilkay Gundogan were just a waft of wind against a eucalyptus tree when they fell at the last moment to Bayern Munich.

Now mired in relegation zone, Dortmund must arrest the rot or their troubles will get even worse. Second from bottom meets third at the top.

 Gladbach are daring to dream for the title, being just four points adrift of leaders Bayern. BVB must beat Gladbach to get back their mojo.

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