Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho thinks Liverpool must win today’s encounter with the Premier League leaders to keep their title bid alive.
Liverpool, whose hopes of a first championship in 24 years were ended by Chelsea in April, are 12 points behind Mourinho’s men entering the lunchtime contest.
“Liverpool know that, if they lose, they are 15 points behind,” Mourinho said.
“If they are 15 points behind in November, obviously it’s not over but it’s difficult.
“If they win, nine points behind is different to 15.
"It’s a very good motivation for them. So I expect them to try everything to win.”
The last time the sides met was om April 27 at Anfield, when Steven Gerrard’s slip led to a Demba Ba goal and a costly 2-0 defeat.
Mourinho believes had the Liverpool skipper not lost his footing, the Reds would have been champions.
He added: “It gave the title to Manchester City. It’s as simple as that.
"Liverpool, with a point in that match, are champions and because they lost that match they lost the title.”
Today’s match is Chelsea’s third away game in the opening 11 fixtures against teams which share their title aspirations.
The trip to Anfield follows draws at Manchester City and Manchester United and a home defeat of Arsenal in an opening Mourinho described as “the most difficult fixtures of every team”.
The Blues boss believes his side are faring well in such games.
“When we leave Anfield, we will have left behind three of the most difficult stadia to play in all season,” he added.
“If, after 11 matches, we were in a mid-table position because we lost three matches, it would be something very normal, very acceptable.
“The points we are getting, one here, one there, three here, three there, are important points.”
Liverpool made wholesale chan-ges for their midweek Champions League match at Real Madrid, with Reds boss Brendan Rodgers criticised despite a narrow defeat.
Mourinho anticipates those res-ted will return against his side.
“Brendan had an option and took it,” he said. “Name the Liverpool team? I’d name the six guys on the bench in Madrid: Steven Gerrard, (Dejan) Lovren, (Raheem) Sterling, (Jordan) Henderson, (Mario) Balotelli, (Glen) Johnson.”
Mourinho attempted to prise Gerrard away from Anfield during his first spell as Chelsea boss, between June 2004 and September 2007.
Asked if he regretted missing out on Gerrard, a Freudian slip perhaps revealed Gerrard’s dwindling powers in Mourinho’s eyes.
The Blues boss added: “He had… he is having a fantastic career in his club, and he has an option to stay for life in the same club, become a legend of his home town club.
“I think it was a very respectful decision.
"I was never upset with that kind of option. No way.”
Mourinho refused to suggest how long he expected Gerrard to continue but ruled out returning for the former England captain if he became available.
One former Mourinho player who his Chelsea side are likely to come up against is Mario Balotelli, who thrived at Internazionale under the Portuguese.
The Italian striker has struggled since returning to the Premier League, failing to net in eight games.
Mourinho remains wary of the enigmatic Italy striker.
“I am very aware of him,” he added. “I have good memories with him, not bad.
"He’s a good, dangerous player and, because I know him so well, I will try to help my players to play against him.”
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