By Kevin Koczwara
What to Watch
Liverpool v Chelsea (Sunday) at Stamford Bridge
The two teams have played enough times in the last few years to know what color their opponents underwear is. This is a clash of defensive minded and strong Chelsea versus the attack and flair of Liverpool. And both teams need to win to keep pace with the surging Manchester City and the steady Manchester United.
If last years Champions League clash between the teams is reenacted at all, then fans are in for a treat. The games ran down to the last minute with both sides powering in goals, tackling hard, and pushing their bodies to limits that were unknown. As a football fan, the clashes between the Blues of Chelsea and Red of Liverpool is a highlight in my schedule every year.
Liverpool broke Chelsea’s remarkable run at Stamford Bridge last year, and Blues fans should be out in numbers (not out of the unusual for Stamford Bridge to be packed and loud) to try and spark their team and not let last year repeat itself.
Chelsea is also coming off of a remarkable loss to Wigan last weekend and a poor showing mid-week in the Champions League (they won, but it was not pretty). So look for the likes of Frank Lampard and Didier Drogba to be on top of their game.
A difference maker for Chelsea this weekend could be the absence of suspended Petr Cech in net. He is suspended for the red card he received last weekend against Wigan. The sturdy Cech is part of the reason for Chelsea’s success defensively, it will be interesting to see how the Blues cope with in-form striker Fernando Torres without their back stop. Albeit, they still have one of the best back-lines in the world, but having a trustworthy goalkeeper makes any defender more confident and in turn, better.
As for Liverpool, they need to bounce back from a horrid display on Tuesday in Florence. The squad lost its Champions League match with struggling Fiorentina 2-0. And The Reds defense is looking shaky these days. Hopefully a healthy Javier Mascherano will help solidify the middle of the field and give the defense a cool and collected outlet for their passes, something they have been missing with his absences.
There is is no doubt that Liverpool can put the ball in the back of the net, but they need to show they can control a game–something they have not done so far this year, even in their blow-out wins.
This is The Must Watch of The Weekend. Don’t miss it on Sunday, it is on FSC in the States.
Aston Villa v Manchester City (Monday)
It’s Gareth Barry’s return to Villa. The emotions will be high here, and rightfully so. Villa fans know that Barry left for the money, not for European play, and they will most likely let their opinions be known. And rightfully so.
If Barry had left Villa for something other than money it may have been alright. But he left the club because of the promise of higher wages at City, not for the love of the sport, for one of the World’s Biggest Clubs or his “dreams.”
The other reason to watch, these two teams are in good form coming into the match and are looking to move up in the table. Bot clubs need the victory to stay in the hunt for a Champions League bid. And both are fighting for a UEFA bid next year. It is never too early to be thinking of these things, and these two teams are looking ahead.
This match is also kind of an anomaly: City is flashy and expensive like a Rolls Royce, and Villa is hard working and honest like a Honda. This is a battle of classes in a way, and both need this victory to keep plugging away at the top spots in the Premiership.
Kevin Koczwara can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow The Soccer Guys on Twitter: @TheSoccerGuys. Check out Kevin’s other blog: Feel Da Beat. Follow him on Twitter: @kkoczwara