Liverpool v Chelsea: Big-game focus for Klopp and Hiddink


Jurgen Klopp hopes Liverpool can continue to build a big-game culture at Anfield when Chelsea visit in the Premier League on Wednesday.

The Reds are eighth, but still harbour hopes of European qualification via the league and will go above sixth-placed Southampton with a victory over the Blues.

Liverpool are unbeaten in 12 home games under Klopp, a run that has featured dominant wins over Manchester City, Manchester United and Everton, as well as their enthralling Europa League successes against Borussia Dortmund and Villarreal.

A Europa League final meeting with Sevilla has dominated discussion on Merseyside and Klopp is keen to build his players' mental toughness, starting with a game against the deposed champions.

"It's how it is when you are at home, really strong and don't give points away," Klopp said after Sunday's 2-0 win at home to Watford. 

"I want to be, in the future, really consistent in all the games. For this we need a little bit of time. 

"When I came here, we had a little problem at home, it was not too easy to win. We know Anfield is a special place."

Handling the occasion is also at the forefront of Guus Hiddink's thoughts after Chelsea threw away a pair of one-goal leads to lose 3-2 at Sunderland on Saturday.

"For them I think the crowd felt like the 12th man," said Hiddink. 

"It was not hostile, just a very enthusiastic atmosphere, but my players are experienced in that.

"We should have coped. 

"Sunderland felt the energy of the crowd but it's worse that we let them stay in it by not killing the game off. It made them a little more energetic in the second half."

Hiddink will have to make do without captain John Terry at Anfield due to a suspension that seems likely to end the Chelsea skipper's Stamford Bridge career.

Terry's second dismissal of the season, for two late bookings at the Stadium of Light, rules him out for the rest of the season, before his contract expires.

Branislav Ivanovic is likely to come into the centre of defence, although American youngster Matt Miazga is another option if Hiddink opts for an experimental approach, with little on the line for his side.

Klopp made eight changes for the Watford win, having beaten Villarreal 3-0 three days previously, but was quick to hail his back-up players, with Joe Allen attracting particular praise.

The German beamed: "I said it would be cool if we could play 'Joe Allen football' - brilliant technique, hard-working, very lively, very energetic. 

"He is a great player. In good teams with more good players than you need, you have situations like this [rotation]. But he takes the situation brilliantly, he is a wonderful boy and professional football player."

Allen could be given the chance to put his stamp on the team once again, although more alterations could in order with no new fitness concerns for Klopp to contend with.


Key Opta stats:

- Liverpool have failed to keep a clean sheet in their last nine Premier League games against Chelsea and conceded two goals in each of the last three meetings at Anfield.
- Chelsea have kept just one clean sheet in their last 11 Premier League games against Liverpool.
- If Liverpool win it will be the 27th home win in this fixture in the Premier League (currently 13 each) - no Premier League fixture has had more (Liverpool v Newcastle also 27).
- Chelsea have conceded 50+ goals in a Premier League season (51) for the first time since 1996/97 when they conceded a joint club-record 55 in the competition (also in 1994/95).
- Liverpool have scored in each of their last 12 Premier League games, their best scoring run in the top-flight since April 2014 (25).
- Diego Costa has been involved in 14 goals in his last 14 Premier League games for Chelsea (nine goals, five assists).