Premier League – Chelsea v Liverpool preview: Mario Balotelli could be fit to face champions
Team news, manager quotes, facts and odds ahead of the Premier League clash between Chelsea and Liverpool at Stamford Bridge.
Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho has yet to decide whether Diego Costa will feature. The 26-year-old striker’s campaign has been punctuated by hamstring problems but the Blues boss says the player wants to be involved against the Reds. Oscaris out for the remainder of the season with a thigh injury which has kept him out of the recently-announced Brazil squad for the Copa America.Ramires also missed out on selection with a kidney complaint, which will sideline him for the Liverpoolmatch.
Striker Mario Balotelli returned to training this week after a foot injury and could make the squad for the trip to Chelsea. Midfielder Lucas Leiva may be in contention for a start against the champions but defender Mamadou Sakho is still missing with a hamstring injury. Striker Daniel Sturridge‘s hip operation has ruled him out until September.
Jose Mourinho: “Liverpool is Liverpool – it is a giant club. If they want to do that (form a guard of honour), obviously my players are going to accept that with respect. But speaking about Liverpool and speaking about honouring the champions, this is my time to honour a champion. It is my time to honour Steve Gerrard. It is with opponents like him that I am the manager that I am, because I learn with my players and I learn with my best opponents. I learn with my players’ problems, my players’ doubts, my players’ qualities and I learn with my best opponent, with the problems they give me – the way they make me think, the way they make me analyse them and studying the best way to play against them. Steven Gerrard is for sure one of my favourite enemies – an enemy with all the good feeling I can express with that word in football. For sure, in England he is my dear enemy. For sure, he is the one that made me a better manager. To stop him or try and stop him has been very, very difficult.”
Brendan Rodgers on Chelsea taking a four-day break since claiming the Premier League title: “.Chelsea are deserved champions and congratulations to them. If they have had a few days off, they deserve it. Sometimes the break can reinvigorate you. And Jose may want to play some young players who will be motivated to do well. Whatever team they play will be looking to win the game so Chelsea’s days off are an irrelevance to us. They are top players, and every game is important and they will look to win it.”
Jose Mourinho has won eight and lost just one of 10 Premier League matches as a coach against Liverpool. In the 11 league meetings between his two spells in charge, Liverpool won six and lost just two matches against the Blues.
Liverpool have lost just one of their last four Barclays Premier League visits to Stamford Bridge (W2 D1 L1).
The Reds have kept seven clean sheets in their last nine Premier League matches on the road.
Eden Hazard has created the most chances from open play in the Premier League this season (88) and has also beaten an opponent with a dribble on the most occasions (160).
Cesc Fabregas has assisted more goals than any other player in the top five European Leagues since the start of last season (30) – one ahead of his nearest rival; Lionel Messi (29).
John Terry is the only Chelsea player to play every minute of this Premier League campaign so far (3150).
Jose Mourinho has coached Chelsea in 96 Premier League games at Stamford Bridge, losing just one (W75 D20 L1)
Chelsea have already won the Premier League title and on the final day of the 2014-15 PL season, they will have led the table for 274 days of the season – a PL record.
Liverpool have won just four points in their seven PL games against the current top four in this season (W1 D1 L5).