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Apr 25, 2014

Keys to Liverpool vs. Chelsea

Chelsea's dominant lineup currently leads the entire league with 18 shots per game.

The Premier League season has provided a number of exciting games between some of Europe’s most high-profile teams, and those high-profile clashes culminate this weekend with the matchup between Liverpool and Chelsea. With just three Premier League games remaining for both teams, Chelsea sit five points behind leaders Liverpool, and remain one point clear of a Manchester City team that still have an extra game to play.

A win for Liverpool will likely decide the title, and Chelsea’s European run is having a significant impact on this game, as manager Jose Mourinho has confirmed that he will rest players ahead of the team’s Champions League semifinal against Atletico Madrid on Wednesday.

This selection strategy does not automatically disqualify Chelsea from beating Liverpool, but it does alter the key factors that will determine the outcome of this game. Let's examine three things that I believe will steer the pace of this game, as both teams look to finish their seasons with a major trophy.

Chelsea's depleted lineup

Chelsea currently lead the league with 18 shots per game, and rank second behind Manchester City with 12.4 chances created per game, so under normal circumstances Liverpool’s defense would be tasked with a stressful game. However, Chelsea’s decision to rest players in the hopes of advancing to the Champions League final means that Liverpool is likely to avoid dealing with the likes of Eden Hazard and Samuel Eto’o, who represent 37 percent of the goals in Chelsea’s attack.

This provides an opportunity for seldom-used players lik...