Liverpool’s visit to Stamford Bridge tonight sees quite a few comparisons between the two sides.
Starting at the level of Chairman, Chelsea’s Roman Abramovich is a
multi-billionaire and sees Chelsea as an overgrown Subbuteo set. David
Moores is a life-long Liverpool fan, from the city and willing to
invest much of his own money into the club. Moores doesn’t have as much
money as Abramovich though, and has seen his time as Chairman being
questioned in recent times by the likes of the Thai Prime Minister and
former Redrow chief Steve Morgan. If Chelsea start to lose, and
Abramovich starts to get even small signs of discontent, you can be
sure he’ll be off into the sunset with all his money leaving Chelsea to
fend for themselves. With Moores you get the feeling that he’ll battle
on until he thinks that he himself isn’t the right man for Liverpool’s
top job, regardless of what’s said. He loves the club.
Then you’ve got the two Chief Executives. Peter Kenyon’s name appears
in newspaper stories about meetings at hotels and restaurants with
players under contract to other clubs. Chelsea denied that he’d met Rio
Ferdinand deliberately, but are under investigation by the FA for an
alleged meeting with Arsenal’s Ashley COle. Rio Ferdinand is yet to
sign a new deal offer to him by Manchester United. Rick Parry meanwhile
is a different proposition altogether – he’s spent a great deal of time
since last summer defending himself and Liverpool over their treatment
of Steven Gerrard – who was set to leave the club last summer if
stories are to be believed. Peter Kenyon left Manchester United for the
lure of money being offered by Chelsea. Rick Parry took the Liverpool
job – no doubt well paid – as a fan of Liverpool Football Club.
Next we move onto the two managers. Both managers were linked with both
clubs before they actually made their moves. Both had been successful
in their own countries prior to moving to England, Benitez with
Valencia, Mourinho with Porto. Both managers want to bring long-term
success to their clubs. After that though the differences start to
show. The Chelsea boss is outspoken, very very bitter in defeat and
comes across as extremely arrogant – making Alex Ferguson look the most
over-modest manager in British football history. He incensed Liverpool
fans with a "Shush" gesture during the Carling Cup Final at Cardiff,
but made up some excuse and got away with it. Benitez meanwhile is an
extremely likeable man, quiet and thoughtful. It’s highly unlikely that
you’d see Rafa making gestures at anyone during a game, let alone at
On the field the comparisons all point to the midfield first. Gerrard
and Lampard. Gerrard the life-long Red has been under intense scrutiny
this season thanks to the links to a Chelsea move. Lampard, a product
of his Dad’s club West Ham, moved to Chelsea to avoid having to play at
a lower level as his boyhood team were relegated. Xabi Alonso will be
hoping to deflect the attention away from both of them tonight.
Liverpool have used three goalkeepers this season, and it’s unclear
whether any of them will be first-choice next season. Certainly Scott
Carson will be on the books next season, but is considered as one for
the future. He turned Chelsea down to move to Liverpool. The original
top two at the start of the season – Dudek and Kirkland – are perhaps
both going to be wondering where they’ll be playing next season. Dudek
has made some outstanding saves, but his mistake count is growing too
quickly for most. Kirkland plays well when he’s fit. The problem though
is that for various reasons, he’s rarely fit. Dudek’s likely to be
selected tonight, but his opposite number, Petr Cech, has had such a
good season that he got nominated for a PFA award.
Talking of PFA awards, the winner was Chelsea’s centre-back John Terry.
Terry actually struggles to get into the England team when Sol Campbell
and Rio Ferdinand are fit. Overlooked for the PFA awards, and even
further behind in the pecking order for England, is Liverpool’s Jamie
Carragher. Playing his first full season as centre-back, Carragher is
almost certainly Liverpool’s player of the season, but is behind Ledley
King in Sven Goran Eriksson’s eyes.
In attack there’s two strikers who were playing French football last
season. Didier Drogba was playing for Marseilles last season before
being snapped up by Chelsea. Djibril Cisse was already lined-up for
Liverpool by Houllier before Benitez was appointed. Cisse won’t be able
to play the full game tonight according to Benitez. Liverpool’s Milan
Baros, top scorer in Euro 2004 has scored very few goals this season
and carries a knee injury into tonight’s match. Michael Owen’s
11th-hour departure to Real Madrid has left Liverpool in the lurch
attack-wise. Morientes was signed in the winter transfer-window but is
ineligible for Europe for Liverpool this season. In fact the last time
Owen was seen in a Liverpool kit was on the bench in Liverpool’s first
Champions League game of this season. Chelsea seem to have players that
can score goals from anywhere.
Liverpool are looking for their fifth European Cup success. Chelsea are
looking for their first. Chelsea last won the league in 1955. They
would have been eligible to play in the first European Cup that took
place the following season, but for whatever reason weren’t entered.
They’ve never won the European cup.