After their quadruple dreams were dashed in stunning fashion by Bradford City, Chelsea now face a fight to avoid their four-trophy quest rapidly becoming two when they host Liverpool in the second leg of their Capital One Cup semifinal. The Premier League leaders let a two-goal lead slip to crash out of the FA Cup 4-2 at home to League One Bradford in one of the competitions great upsets and a result that manager Jose Mourinho brandished a “disgrace.” Mourinho made a number of his changes to his lineup for Sunday’s defeat and is likely to bring several players back in as Chelsea seek to progress to the first domestic final of the season on the back of a 1-1 draw in the first leg at Anfield.
“I always said I don't choose competitions, that we go match after match,” he said, reports Sky Sports. “The most important competition now is the Capital One Cup, because it's the next game we have to play. We lost and we care. I cannot say more than that. Does this affect the next match? I don't know.
“Because many of the players were not directly involved in the game, I don't think these players can be affected. I don't think [Branislav] Ivanovic, [Nemanja] Matic, Diego [Costa], can be affected by something that is not directly related to them. But it's our team and we lost at home against a lower division team.”
Chelsea, who have a crucial Premier League duel against second-placed Manchester City on Saturday, took the lead in the first leg of the semifinal before being pegged by Raheem Sterling’s superb second-half solo goal. It was Liverpool, however, who likely went away with the greater disappointment after dominating long periods of the contest. Although not quite as painful as Chelsea, Liverpool also had a tough time in the FA Cup at the weekend, only producing a goalless draw at home to Championship side Bolton Wanderers. But Rodgers explained that he still sees plenty of reason for confidence heading to Stamford Bridge after their strong display last week.
“We were a real threat going forward, but if you analyze the last game we were very good defensively,” he said, according to Liverpool’s official website. “We had great pressure on the ball, we were very good controlling the counter-attack. I felt we took that performance into the cup game against Bolton, but just couldn't quite get the goal.
“The team is on the up, we have seen that over the last number of weeks - confidence is really high. We certainly won't be underestimating Chelsea because they have had a disappointing result, we know that every element of our game has to be at a high level. But we've got great confidence going into the game, knowing that in particular away from home our form and resilience is getting better and better, and we can get a result.”
Liverpool also made changes at the weekend, leaving out captain Steven Gerrard, Lucas Leiva, Martin Skrtel and Lazar Markovic. While the Merseysiders’ form has improved to move within five points of the final Champions League place, Rodgers has insisted that winning his first trophy at Anfield is a major objective this season.
Prediction: Chelsea have certainly shown greater vulnerability in recent weeks, although defeat to Bradford was perhaps more down to the significant drop off in performances shown when Mourinho is without key first-team players. Still, if Liverpool can reproduce the high-tempo attacking play they displayed a week ago then they have a real chance of sending Chelsea packing from another competition. Extra time, too, after which away-goals will come into effect, is also a possibility. But, back to full-strength and surely determined to atone for the weekend loss, Chelsea may just have enough.
Chelsea 2-1 Liverpool
Kickoff time: 2.45 p.m. EST
TV channel: beIN Sports
Live stream: beIN Sports Connect