Liverpool face more misery as Chelsea come visiting
LONDON: Roberto di Matteo's Chelsea side will face Liverpool at Anfield today with renewed hope of securing the top four finish that would guarantee their Champions League qualification.
The two teams will meet just three days after the FA Cup final that ended with Chelsea celebrating a third success in the competition in four years following a 2-1 victory at Wembley.
And while Liverpool have only pride to play for in the rematch, di Matteo's men were given fresh incentive as Newcastle and Tottenham stumbled in their quest for maximum points.
Had either of those two teams won last weekend, Chelsea's hopes of finishing fourth in the Premier League would have all but disappeared.
That would have left the Stamford Bridge club needing to win the Champions League final against Bayern Munich to ensure a return to Europe's premier club competition -- and consign the fourth-best team in England to the second-tier Europa League.
But Chelsea could yet provide themselves with an insurance policy against losing the Champions League final by finishing fourth.
That would happen if they beat Liverpool and Blackburn in their final two league games and Tottenham and Newcastle failed to defeat Fulham and Everton respectively on Sunday.
The odds are stacked heavily against them, but Chelsea's end-of-season revival has shown the danger of dismissing their chances.
First, though, they must carry on where they left off at Wembley.
"It'll be a bit weird playing them (Liverpool) again so soon after this," Chelsea midfielder Frank Lampard said.
"But we still have two league games to play before the Champions League final and we want to finish as best as we can.
"It will be a lot easier going to Anfield with a win than if we had lost," added the England international.
Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard has already set his sights on next season when the Reds, who won the last of their 18 English titles back in 1990, will be expected to improve on a desperately poor league campaign.
"We've been fantastic in the Cup competitions this year (Liverpool won the League Cup prior to their FA Cup final defeat) and the players deserve a lot of credit for that," said Gerrard.
However, the England midfielder added: "We haven't been good enough in the league this year. We deserve criticism and we need to take criticism like men.
"We need to do better. We're Liverpool Football Club; we're not seventh or eighth in the league. We're better than that." AFP