Chelsea v Liverpool, Premier League, February 6, 2011
The fixture list has once again thrown up a match with impeccable timing as Chelseaâ€™s 50 million pound signing Fernando Torres looks certain to face his former club just six days after completing his mammoth move from Merseyside to London.
Sunday afternoon will be difficult for Liverpool fans to swallow as their former number nine, and idol of the Kop, pulls on his new blue shirt and will look to score goals against his recent team mates. Since the transfer was made permanent, there was no recourse to block Torres from playing against Liverpool and the likelihood of El Nino being involved in a key incident or scoring seems hugely likely.
Ironically, Torres was a frequent goal scorer in this fixture, scoring six goals in five matches against Chelsea at Anfield during his time on Merseyside. This was evident in November, in what was probably the Spanish strikers best game for Liverpool all season. El Nino claimed two first half goals, the second was a fine curler, to down the Blues 2-0 and one would imagine that with the spotlight on him, Torres will perform.
Strip away the Torres factor and this fixture looks very much like a home banker, seeing as it pits a championship challenging side with a mid-table team with a pretty woeful away record in 2010/2011. The Blues have looked like their old selves of late and it seemed evident at the Stadium of Light on Tuesday that a number of players had raised their game in response to Torresâ€™ arrival.
The 4-2 win, where Nicolas Anelka and Salomon Kalou played one of the best 90 minutes of their respective careers, now means Chelsea have won their last three Premier League matches, having scored 10 goals.
Carlo Ancelotti will have to think over whether to play Torres with Anelka and Didier Drogba or a host of pundits have predicted a diamond formation in midfield to support the Spaniard and the Ivorian up front. David Luiz may also make his debut which would bring a little more calm to the Chelsea backline and with a packed Stamford Bridge it is going to be extremely difficult for Liverpool.
Kenny Dalglish has overseen an upturn in fortunes of late thanks to three successive victories and there are other positives for Liverpool fans to take into the game, not least the debut goal from Luis Suarez in the 2-0 win over Stoke on Wednesday. The Uruguayan was only on the field for 16 minutes before scoring after coming on as a substitute and may well start the game at Stamford Bridge on the bench as he searches for full fitness.
We are still some way off seeing Andy Carroll in a Liverpool shirt due to injury and there may well be changes for Dalglish to make as he played three at the back against Stoke, most likely in a bid to negate the aerial threat of the Potters. The likes of Martin Kelly, Raul Meireles and Lucas all appear to be revelling under King Kenny and the confidence should be flowing for Liverpool, at least in the early stages of this match.
A few years ago this was consistently the most boring fixture on the calendar and it was taken to new levels by some of the turgid games in the latter stages of the Champions League (bar the matches in 2009). This is unlikely to be anything of the sort with the emotion of the Torres situation added to two teams with plenty of attacking options.
Chelsea seem to hold all the cards though, a number of top quality strikers and a new found belief added to a real positive feeling around the club that spending Â£76.5m can generate.
101gg predicts: Chelsea 3 â€“ Liverpool 1