Liverpool v Chelsea preview: Sadio Mane could return to Reds bench for huge clash
Last Updated: 31/01/17 6:33pm
Liverpool forward Sadio Mane may get a place on the bench to face Chelsea after flying home from the Africa Cup of Nations.
However, the winger's late arrival on Monday meant he missed training and will have just one session just hours before the game for manager Jurgen Klopp to make a decision on his involvement.
Liverpool will have another session on Tuesday and manager Jurgen Klopp will have to decide then whether to include the player, at best as a substitute, who was distraught after missing the critical penalty in a 5-4 shoot-out quarter-final defeat to Cameroon.
"I don't know exactly (when he will be available)," said Klopp. "The club did an outstanding job to bring him back as soon as possible and he is now on his way.
"We thought it would be possible yesterday: we had a plane there but he was not allowed to go in the plane so we had to wait."
Liverpool's title chances are hanging by a thread as they host leaders Chelsea, with 10 points separating the sides.
Chelsea have lost just once in the last 16 Premier League games, and could potentially end the midweek programme with an 11-point gap on their rivals with just 15 games remaining.
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Chelsea are to revert to their first-choice lineup for Tuesday night's clash. Head coach Antonio Conte made nine changes for last weekend's FA Cup win over Brentford and has no injury doubts for the trip to Anfield.
Goalkeeper Asmir Begovic and defender Branislav Ivanovic, who have both been linked with moves, may be late omissions from the squad if they leave before Tuesday night's transfer deadline.
Elsewhere for Liverpool, right-back Nathaniel Clyne is still absent with a rib injury and Ovie Ejaria is sidelined after rupturing ankle ligaments at the weekend, but midfielder Adam Lallana is set to play after sitting out the FA Cup defeat to Wolves.
This will be the 70th competitive meeting between these clubs in the Premier League era; the most played fixture between two professional English clubs in this period.
Liverpool will be looking to defeat Chelsea both home and away in the same Premier League season for the first time since 2011-12.
Chelsea will be looking for their 50th league victory against Liverpool in this match - a tally they have only achieved against eight opponents in their league history.
Chelsea are unbeaten in their last four Premier League trips to Anfield (W2 D2 L0), last losing there in May 2012.
Of players to have made 20+ Premier League appearances, Diego Costa has scored in the highest proportion of games (55.4 per cent - 41/74).
Costa has scored in 15 of his last 21 Premier League matches (16 goals in total).
I'm going to throw a bombshell out there - I cannot see Chelsea winning at Anfield. Forget about Liverpool's recent struggles, this is going to be Chelsea's toughest game of the season so far. Tuesday night, under the floodlights and a game Liverpool cannot afford to lose - things will be different.
If Chelsea win, and then beat Arsenal, then the title race is virtually done and dusted. But I see plenty more twists and turns in the title race yet, starting with a draw here. That being said, Chelsea will be more than happy leaving Merseyside with a point.
PAUL PREDICTS: 1-1 (5/1 with Sky Bet)
Liverpool are marginal favourites at 8/5 with Sky Bet with Chelsea 15/8 for all three points, while the draw is priced at 9/4. Sky Bet's range of Price Boost offers on the clash include Chelsea's Diego Costa to score and be carded, which has been enhanced from 7/2 to 11/2. Sky Sports pundit and Reds legend Phil Thompson reckons Sadio Mane will score first in a 1-0 home win - available at 35/1. The first scorer market is headed by Costa at 4/1, with Roberto Firmino on offer at 11/2.
There's also an additional round of Super 6, with £250,000 up for grabs for predicting six correct scores tonight.