Liverpool is set to host the runaway league leaders Chelsea in an enticing first-leg clash of the semi-finals of the Capital One Cup at Anfield. It will be their first meeting since Chelsea came back from behind, after Emre Can’s deflected shot gave Liverpool the lead in close-fought match-up in October.
Liverpool hopes to continue their recent resurgence as the Reds have just lost one in the their last 14 games in all competition and a morale boosting win against Aston Villa. Manager Brendan Rodgers believes his team has what it takes to overcome Chelsea in the first leg of this epic semi-final clash.
Speaking in a pre-match press conference, Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers spoke of his ambitions in this competition.
“Our objective is to win a trophy and qualify for the Champions League. I think winning a trophy would help our future here in what we are trying to build and trying to deliver. It will give the younger players a lot of experience.”
Rodgers will be buoyed by the return of club captain Steven Gerrard after resting his tight hamstring. Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho praised the Liverpool captain as follows.
“He is a historical player for Liverpool, a historical player for the Premier League and an opponent I have always admired and respected.”
Mourinho was once close to sign the then 25-year-old captain however, Steven Gerrard made a dramatic u-turn and renewed his Liverpool contract.
“We did everything to try (to sign him) and it was almost there. I was dreaming of (Claude) Makelele, Gerrard and (Frank) Lampard in midfield. We were playing in a proper triangle without a number 10 and playing Maka in front of the defenders. Me, Mr Abramovich and (former Chelsea chief executive) Peter Kenyon at that time, we dreamed of that. His people were open to him joining a top side like Chelsea. But to me personally he never said he would come. Never. He (Gerrard) was always a red and I think the decision was right.”
Liverpool hasn’t won their last five meetings with Chelsea. Chelsea famously beat Liverpool last season, thanks to the Steven Gerrard slip that ultimately ended Liverpool’s pursuit for their first League title since 1990.
The slip led to a torrent of ridicule for the Liverpool captain, however. The Chelsea manager shares his sympathies. “The song that my fans have I don’t like at all,” Mourinho said.
“A couple of times it is good fun, but to go and go and go, especially with a player like him who deserves respect, I don’t think you need that. We have so many other songs, you don’t need that one. I love this quote when he was saying in his life he would never score a goal against Liverpool. I love these words. I understand why he was – almost, almost, almost – coming to Chelsea. But he didn’t and I respect that a lot.”
Watch the much anticipated clash by clicking this link. Liverpool v Chelsea is set to kick-off at 2:45 p.m. Eastern Time, 11:45 a.m. Pacific Time.
[Photo credit ANDREW YATES/AFP/Getty Images]