Victory over Chelsea would usher in new era for Liverpool

Reds will not risk Daniel Sturridge in League Cup clash but hope to exploit Chelsea 'trepidation'

Daniel Sturridge of Liverpool FC
(Image credit: Clint Hughes/Gett)

Liverpool will aim to compound Chelsea's humiliation in the wake of their FA Cup defeat to Bradford when they take on the Blues in the League Cup semi-final second leg at Stamford Bridge tonight.

Reds boss Brendan Rodgers "believes that his players can grasp their opportunity to win the first trophy of a new era", writes Chris Bascombe in the Daily Telegraph, adding that Liverpool will "seek to expose any trepidation" in the Chelsea defence, three days after they threw away a two-goal lead against Bradford to lose 4-2.

The stakes are high for Rodgers, who has seen Liverpool's title push fall by the wayside early in the season. But victory against Chelsea "would be the biggest win of Rodgers's Liverpool career so far," says Bascombe. "There has been a noticeable shift over the past two seasons, as he no longer wishes to be perceived as a former Mourinho apprentice but as a trophy gatherer in his own right."

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However, Liverpool are unlikely to risk striker Daniel Sturridge. He is back with the squad after five months out with a thigh injury he picked up while on England duty, but will not start. Despite that, the Reds will look to be positive.

"We respect the opponent of course, because they're a very good team, but we've got nothing to fear in the game," said Rodgers on the eve of the clash. But he also acknowledged that the Bradford result could be crucial. "After a game like that you want to put it right," he said. "But in the back of their mind even if they are 2-0 up, they will have a bit of trepidation."

Mourinho's response to the events of the weekend will be to put out his strongest team, reports The Times. Thibaut Courtois, John Terry, Cesc Fabregas and Diego Costa are all set to return to the side says the paper, with Nemanja Matic resuming his partnership with Fabregas in the middle.

The rivalry between these two teams in recent years has been intense and clashes between them always seem to throw up some new drama.

"There is a chant from Liverpool supporters mocking Chelsea's supposed lack of history, but the match tonight is brimming with nostalgia, with enough previous between the clubs to merit a museum exhibition. Whenever Liverpool are on the threshold of ending a trophy drought, it seems that the same blue obstacle hovers menacingly into view," notes Bascombe of the Telegraph.

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