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Liverpool fans could sway title race

Michael Beattie
April 7, 2014
How the title rivals compare

One way or another, the destination of the Premier League title seems certain to be decided at Anfield. Both Manchester City and Chelsea face Liverpool away this month, with all three teams still firmly in contention for the crown. Liverpool are in pole position at the top of the league; Chelsea trail by two points while City, with two games in hand, are four behind.

The equation is simple for Brendan Rodgers's side: win their five remaining games this season and they will end a 24-year wait to become champions again. Norwich, Crystal Palace and Newcastle lie in wait before the season's end, but those two home games against their title rivals could - and should - define their campaign.

So do Chelsea or City have cause for confidence or concern ahead of their trips to Anfield in April? A look at the side's recent fixtures suggests only one thing is assured - there will be goals.

Liverpool v Manchester City, Sun 13 Apr, 1:37pm

Last five meetings at Anfield: DDWDD

Luis Suarez snatched a point for Liverpool against City at Anfield last season… © Getty Images
  • August 26 2012: Liverpool 2-2 Man City
    November 27 2011: Liverpool 1-1 Man City
    April 11 2011: Liverpool 3-0 Man City
    November 21 2009: Liverpool 2-2 Man City
    February 22 2009: Liverpool 1-1 Man City

Liverpool will be back at Anfield for what promises to be an emotional weekend in the city. To mark the 25th anniversary of the Hillsborough disaster, which claimed the lives of 96 Liverpool fans, all matches will kick off at seven minutes past the hour - one minute after the FA Cup semi-final between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest was abandoned on April 15, 1989.

The passion and feeling at Liverpool when they take on Manchester City on April 13 is bound to feel almost tangible and for all the experience in Manuel Pellegrini's side, the atmosphere could easily make some of them freeze.

It is almost 11 years since City claimed all three points at Anfield, but a lot has changed at the club in the interim and Liverpool have only beaten City once in three years in all competitions, a Carling Cup semi-final first leg win in Manchester in January 2012.

Four of the last five Premier League showdowns at Anfield have ended in draws, including a pulsating 2-2 in their last meeting. Then, City were gifted a point after Martin Skrtel's backpass went straight to Carlos Tevez with 10 minutes remaining, denying Rodgers his first Premier League victory with the club.

Given the potency of their strike forces and the history of the fixture, you can all but guarantee goals when the sides meet at Anfield: the last time there was a goalless draw between the teams in Liverpool was 1973.

Liverpool v Chelsea, Sun 27 Apr, 2:05pm

Last five meetings at Anfield: WLWWD

…and Suarez was on hand to equalise against Chelsea after biting Branislav Ivanovic © Getty Images
  • April 21 2013: Liverpool 2-2 Chelsea
    May 8 2012: Liverpool 4-1 Chelsea
    November 7 2010: Liverpool 2-0 Chelsea
    May 2 2010: Liverpool 0-2 Chelsea
    February 1 2009: Liverpool 2-0 Chelsea

Jose Mourinho returns to Anfield for the first time since rejoining Chelsea in the summer. He may have branded Chelsea's title bid "impossible" after defeat by Crystal Palace two games ago, but even if that proves to be the case he would love nothing more than to thwart the club that so often stood between him and the trophy he so craved in his first spell in charge: the Champions League.

Mourinho has faced Liverpool a staggering 16 times during his three-year spell at Stamford Bridge and claimed his first silverware against the club, a feisty Carling Cup final in Cardiff. The Portuguese needed a police escort after making a hush gestures to Liverpool fans following Chelsea's equaliser in normal time and watched the rest of the game from the stands.

Mourinho's league record against Liverpool is impressive but he came off second-best in many of their key showdowns, most notably their two Champions League semi-finals in 2005 and 2007, the first of which featured Luis Garcia's infamous 'ghost goal' at Anfield. Liverpool won the Champions League in 2005 and lifted the FA Cup in 2006, beating Chelsea in the semi-final at Old Trafford.

Chelsea's 2-1 victory at Stamford Bridge on his return this season means Mourinho's record against the club reads: played 17, won eight, lost five, drawn four. In his absence, Liverpool have gained the upper hand at Anfield, winning three of the last five meetings between the clubs, though last season's 2-2 draw lives longest in the memory for Luis Suarez biting Chelsea defender Branislav Ivanovic before scoring a dramatic last-gasp equaliser.

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