Ed Chamberlin: Reds nearly there
Sky Sports presenter Ed Chamberlin looks ahead to a massive Super Sunday as Liverpool prepare to host Chelsea at Anfield.
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We're back to Anfield this weekend and another spectacular Super Sunday in store.
Three live games, all with huge implications for the Premier League title race and battle to avoid relegation. The centre piece, of course, is Liverpool v Chelsea.
Liverpool are flying right now. They have won 11 games in a row and taken 40 points from the last 42 available at home. They are within touching distance of a first title since 1990. They are red hot favourites with Sky Bet to be crowned champions. Anfield will be rocking.
A situation made for Jose Mourinho.
Yet again on Tuesday night in Madrid, Mourinho produced a tactical masterclass to stop an Atletico side that had been flying. Manchester City had been blowing teams away before Chelsea arrived at the Etihad in February and produced THE away performance of the season. Can Chelsea do it again?
The neutrals may not have enjoyed the stalemate against Atletico Madrid this week but Liverpool would have been pleased watching. The 0-0 draw came at a cost with injuries to big players. Chelsea are also sure to have one eye on next week's second leg.
Sunday sees the Premier League's most effective attack against the best defence.
Liverpool are top scorers with 96 goals this season – the most the club have ever scored in a top division season and they need seven more goals to equal the record set by Chelsea in 2009-10 (103). Liverpool have blitzed teams from the start. They have scored an incredible 36 goals in the first 30 minutes of Premier League games Jose and the Premier League's best defence, which has conceded the fewest goals (26) and kept the most clean sheets (16), will try and stop that, frustrate Liverpool and play on the anxiety that may follow.
That's because as Gary Neville, who the Premier League title eight times, said on Monday Night Football, Liverpool are now under a different type of pressure. After last weekend's results the expectation has changed. Now Liverpool are expected to win the title. That brings with it a new form of pressure. One that Jose Mourinho will be looking to exploit on Sunday.
The Reds are set to break records: some good some bad. Brendan Rodgers' team are on course to be both the highest-scoring champions and the highest-conceding champions in Premier League history.
No top division champions since the 1960s have scored more (2.74) or conceded more (1.26) on average than Liverpool have so far this season. The game at Norwich mirrored that perfectly. They have always backed themselves to score more than the opposition this season. They did so again. The difference was that they were holding on at the end. Their legs looks tired and they dropped very deep at the back but as Gary explained that wasn't down physical tiredness that was down to pressure. Title chasing pressure.
This is the one hope Chelsea and Manchester City have. First in the game at Anfield, then when Liverpool travel to in-form Crystal Palace next Monday night.
Kicking off Super Sunday is a huge game at the bottom of the Premier League table: Sunderland (10/11) against Cardiff (3/1). Sunderland were 1/12 to be relegated before the win at Stamford Bridge and are now only 5/6. A remarkable turnaround. Cardiff are the new favourites to go down but anything could still happen at the bottom in this mad season. Sunday's game is absolutely vital.
This week 'possession' has been a hot topic after Everton's win against Manchester United and Real Madrid's 1-0 win over Bayern Munich. Gary and Jamie Carragher talked a lot over the weekend on Sky Sports about the importance of pace, power and 'effective possession' in modern football.
One thing that also stuck in my mind after Super Sunday was Roberto Martinez's use of the word "adaptable" in his interview with Patrick Davison after the game at Goodison Park. His team, which we have talked about and praised so often this season for playing possession football, had adapted against Manchester United. They had only 38% of possession. They often played it long and caught United on the break. It was simple and very effective.
Liverpool were missing two key players at Norwich, Daniel Sturridge and Jordan Henderson, so Rodgers changed his formation to include Joe Allen and Lucas. Both managers are active on the touchline, changing things and adapting during the game. Both have been outstanding.
Tony Pulis must also be right up there when discussing the manager of the year. What an incredible job he has done at Crystal Palace. They round off Super Sunday against Manchester City and will have major say in the destination of the Premier League title as they play Liverpool on Monday Night Football next week.
This week on the show we have Arsenal against Newcastle, which is the last of five live Premier League games on Sky Sports this weekend. Manchester United, with Ryan Giggs in charge, start it all off on Saturday Night Football against Norwich. The thrilling roller coaster ride continues.