The Reds face a fixture that evokes painful memories of the defeat that derailed their title dreams last season as they struggle to find their form
Brendan Rodgers has called on Liverpool to banish memories of their last home clash with Chelsea and kick-start their season on Saturday.
Captain Steven Gerrard made a costly slip as Demba Ba pounced on the loose ball and went on to open the scoring at Anfield last term, with Jose Mourinho’s men going on to win 2-0 and end Liverpool’s Premier League dreams.
The Merseysiders headed into that fixture in April top of the table and on the back of an incredible 11-game winning streak, but eventually lost out on the title to Manchester City by two points after losing to Chelsea and surrendering a three-goal lead to draw with Crystal Palace.
Liverpool’s form going into this season’s fixture at Anfield is in stark contrast to back then, though, as they sit 12 points behind unbeaten league leaders Chelsea after just 10 games.
However, Rodgers believes this meeting with Mourinho’s side could provide a springboard for the remainder of their season.
“This weekend’s game against Chelsea is obviously a big game,” the Liverpool boss told reporters. “We’ll have learnt from last season’s defeat to them, it’ll be tough though. They’re the best team in the league at the moment, that’s why they are top of the league.
“When we play at Anfield, no matter the opponent, we have every confidence we can go on and get a result.
“This game offers us a great chance at home to get a result and can kick-start the season for us.”
The match will unquestionably stir some bad memories for Gerrard, but Rodgers says his skipper deserves credit for the way he has recovered from the embarrassing incident.
“I think Gerrard recovering mentally shows the magnificent response from him,” he continued. “There was no blame, [it was] just unfortunate.
“He was instrumental to our run last year and how well we played. He’s a big character and bounced back well from that.”
Chelsea – four points clear of Southampton at the top – were chasing Liverpool when the sides met in April, but with the roles reversed this time around, defender Branislav Ivanovic believes the change of circumstances will make for a completely different encounter.
“Last season was completely different from this one,” he remarked. “It was three games to go, they were fighting for the title and they wanted to win – they struggled in a must-win.
“Now we are top of the table. We know it’s difficult at Anfield, but also our team knows how to win there. We know what we have to do.”
Liverpool boss Rodgers has hinted he could ring the changes once again, with the likes of Gerrard and Raheem Sterling likely to return after their rest at the Santiago Bernabeu.
He added: “This isn’t a computer game. We’re dealing with the reality of lots of games in a short space of time. We need to make changes.”
Daniel Sturridge (calf) remains sidelined for Rodgers’ side, while Chelsea’s Loic Remy (muscle) is likely to be missing and John Obi Mikel (knee) is a doubt.