Later today Liverpool will play at Stamford Bridge for the second time in fewer than ten days, this time for the League Cup quarter final. It’s an odd quirk of scheduling, but such are the possibilities of a random draw. More irritating is the fact that we have not had a single home tie in the competition. Still, I think we will win.
Liverpool are currently playing their best football this season. After throwing away winning positions earlier in the season we rallied late to beat Chelsea once and would have beat City were it not for the brilliance of Joe Hart. Chelsea, meanwhile look poor. Yes, they beat Wolves 3-0 on Saturday, but that was Wolves. It’s hardly indicative of a return to prominence. Last Wednesday they conceded a stoppage time winner against Leverkusen after being 1-0 in front at one stage. Chelsea have one advantage in that they had an extra day to rest, having played on Saturday. It will make things more difficult for the Reds, but we have a deep squad and should field a strong XI regardless. Historically, Chelsea have had a slight edge in this competition, although the Reds have dominated the recent encounters in the league. The Liverpool website has a great overview of the stats.
The fact that Liverpool have had only one day in which to recuperate means that the side to face Chelsea is difficult to predict. Carragher has been on the bench for the last couple of matches, but has not played in either so he might be an option. Sebastian Coates and Martin Kelly are also good options at the back, though neither have played a lot of first XI football this season. Carroll presumably has a decent chance to start as he will be rested, as is Maxi Rodriguez. Rodriguez, of course, scored last week at Stamford Bridge. I don’t know if Craig Bellamy is ready to return yet, but if he is he is probably a near automatic selection. It’s harder to say who might make way for those players, as that will mostly depend on fitness. It’s probably safe to assume that Reina and Suarez will both start though. Johnson, with his recent injury woes, might be one to miss out, but he scored the winner last time we were at Stamford Bridge and looked in good form on Sunday. It won’t be an ideal XI, and those who played on Sunday will be tired, but I think they will do enough to beat a Chelsea side that have not looked up for it at times this season. I’m predicting another 2-1 win, but after extra time.