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Liverpool v Chelsea – Dalglish and the quandary of solace

by Rob Dore | May 8, 2012

“Everyone knows the home results haven’t been great despite some excellent performances. Beating Chelsea tonight would be a little bit of solace for the punters who have given us tremendous support.” – Kenny Dalglish.

Kenny Dalglish has tried his best to gloss over Liverpool’s appalling league record this season. Adding the FA Cup to the Carling Cup he won back in February may just have been the sleight-of-hand needed to make the Reds’ Premier League standing disappear from sight.

Not just did he fail to land the FA Cup, his team were barely in the game for the first 60 minutes and not because Chelsea played so well. Liverpool were simply poor, in all aspects of their game. A 10-0 win in front of the Kop tonight will lift the fans’ spirits but only until they check what difference those three points and 10 goals make to their Premier League standing.

Can Liverpool get some immediate, albeit insignificant, revenge?

Given their home record of just six wins from 18 league games, Liverpool may not find too many backers tonight at 6/5 to win. Although Liverpool had won their previous four meetings with Chelsea and their loss at Wembley was in large part due to their own poor performance for the first hour.

The nine draws they have been held to at Anfield, added to the seven away league draws Chelsea have played in this season, make the draw at 12/5 a particularly attractive proposition.

Chelsea are still trailing in the race for a top four finish and Champions League qualification for next season. The Blues will earn a place by beating Bayern Munich in the upcoming final but there’s no certainty of achieving this.

If Roberto Di Matteo can guide the club to a top four finish then the job is surely his, regardless of what happens in Munich. Chelsea are 9/4 to win at Anfield and move within two points of fourth-placed Tottenham. It’s still a long-shot but it may be enough to motivate the players to victory.

All that said, when Liverpool did finally find the gas-pedal on Saturday they looked the stronger and fresher side. The shame of dropping yet more points at home should motivate the players to fight to save some face.

There is talk of both managers resting players for this game, Petr Cech is a confirmed absentee. For Di Matteo this is understandable. The Champions League final is his priority and he’ll need his best players in tip-top shape when they take on Bayern in the German side’s own stadium on May 19.

Kenny has no such excuse. If he sends out a weakened team in Liverpool’s last home game of the season and they fail to perform, the King will have a lot of unhappy subjects to appease.

Liverpool’s performances may not always have been poor at Anfield but the results sure have been. In this age of analysis, statistics are the king. Will either of these men be adding to the sacked manager statistics this summer?

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