LONDON (Reuters) - Chelsea against Liverpool is one of the Premier League’s more modern rivalries but the teams, who have clashed over 30 times since the start of the 2004/05 season, meet at Stamford Bridge on Sunday (1600) each with a point to prove.
After enduring their worst start to the league for 101 years, Liverpool - mired in mid-table with 11 points from 10 matches and just two wins - would relish the chance to get one over on the capital side.
Chelsea, who lost top spot to Manchester United last weekend, will be hoping the return to league action of captain John Terry following a four-match ban for racially abusing Queens Park Rangers’ Anton Ferdinand, will plug the London team’s leaky defence.
Last season’s more memorable clashes came in the FA Cup final where Chelsea survived a late fightback to win 2-1, and then in the league three days later at Anfield where a 4-1 defeat consigned Chelsea to their first finish outside the top four since the 2001-02 season.
Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers made it clear where his priorities lay this week by leaving several first-team players, including skipper Steven Gerrard and top scorer Luis Suarez out of the squad for Thursday’s Europa League trip to Russia to face Anzhi Makhachkala.
Rodgers has conceded the club need to strengthen the squad in the January transfer window but defender Jose Enrique believes Liverpool, who drew 1-1 at home to Newcastle last weekend, are showing improved form.
“We’re doing well in training everyday, which people don’t get to see, and we take that momentum into games,” Enrique told the Daily Mirror.
“We’re improving a lot under Brendan Rodgers. I‘m improving a lot under him. We have to keep going and the results will come.”
Premier League leaders Manchester United travel to Aston Villa on Saturday (1730) and a victory could put them four points clear of Chelsea, albeit temporarily.
Champions Manchester City, whose 2-2 draw with Ajax in midweek all but ended their chances of making the Champions League knockout stage, host Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday (1330).
Bottom side Southampton take on Swansea City with speculation mounting over the future of manager Nigel Adkins at the South Coast club.
Earlier this week, Adkins conceded he was favourite to become the first Premier League managerial casualty of the season.
”Someone is always going to be the favourite to be sacked. “If you’re bottom of the league, you should be the favourite probably,” he said.
Southampton’s only Premier League win so far was against Aston Villa in September and they are bottom on four points. (Writing by Alison Wildey; Editing by Justin Palmer)