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The English Premier League clash between Chelsea and Liverpool at Stamford Bridge on Sunday is shaping up to be a season-defining fixture for the two clubs at the start of the new year.

Liverpool and Chelsea are both level on 41 log points, but the Reds do have a game in hand after their Boxing Day clash against Leeds became the latest victim of Covid-19 match postponements.


It’s a case of playing catch up in more ways than one after title rivals Man City have accumulated a nine-match winning streak in the league to now enjoy a handy six-point buffer at the top of the standings.


It places extra importance on Liverpool’s encounter against Leicester City on Tuesday, as well as Chelsea’s fixture against Brighton on Wednesday.

In particular, Jurgen Klopp’s men will be fully aware that a strong result against Leicester, coupled with a game in hand, means they can very quickly make up the lost ground on log-leading City.

However, it will be the encounter against Chelsea that shapes up as a defining start to the new year, and the Reds will be boosted by the news that their Africa Cup of Nations trio should be available to face the Blues.

Liverpool are set be without Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Naby Keita for part of next month, but reports suggest that an agreement has been reached to delay their departures.


FIFA deputy secretary general Mattias Grafstrom confirmed a “commitment of solidarity” to clubs with the decision, having come under pressure to do so from the World Leagues Forum.

“CAF has decided that for those players who have official club matches between the 27 December 2021 and 3 January 2022, the participating member associations in question are to be directed that these players may remain with their clubs to participate in these matches and be released after the last match during this period,” Grafstrom said in a statement.

Meanwhile, Chelsea will be hoping to continue building some momentum after reviving their title hunt with an important 3-1 win over Aston Villa on Boxing Day.

Romelu Lukaku was one of Chelsea’s absentees due to a positive Covid-19 test during the recent draws against Everton and Wolves, but returned to score a goal off the bench against Villa.

“I needed a performance like this today,” said Lukaku.

“We are the hunters now. The last results were not the best and now we have to chase. We have to treat every game like a final. Today we won and now we have to push on.”

It saw Thomas Tuchel’s men move level on points with Liverpool, but the manager has remained critical of being forced to play through a hectic festive period, and at a time when there is the extra complication of Covid and without the use of five substitutions.

“They make us play all the time even if we have Covid. We have new injuries and it won’t stop,” said Tuchel. “People in offices make these decisions.”
Be that as it may, Chelsea and Liverpool will first keep a close eye on Arsenal’s match against City on New Year’s Day, hoping for a favour from the Gunners before heading into a key clash the day after.

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