LIVERPOOL AND CHELSEA will lock horns again in the Premier League on Tuesday three days after battling for FA Cup glory on Saturday.
The Blues won 2-1 at Wembley and the Reds will be keen to atone for missing out on becoming the first team to win a domestic cup double since Chelsea in 2007.
But if Liverpool thought they’d be done a favour by Chelsea as they prepare for their second Champions League final in five years in a fortnight, they best think again.
Sixth-placed Chelsea (61 points), with two league games to play, are five points behind fourth-placed Tottenham (66) who only have one more match left in their 2011-12 campaign against Fulham at White Hart Lane on Sunday.
And if Chelsea lose the Champions League decider to Bayern Munich on May 19, then the only way they will get a chance at redemption next season is if they finish in the league’s top four.
The only way they can do that is if they win their last two matches.
Newcastle (fifth), on 65 points, are sandwiched in between Tottenham and Chelsea but they also face a challenging task on the last day in the form of Everton at Goodison Park.
So where there’s life there’s hope for Chelsea and there will certainly be no thoughts of resting players or going easy crossing the mind of interim manager Roberto Di Matteo against Liverpool.
Capturing all three points will be the sole focus at Anfield, especially when one considers how similar the goal differences of both Tottenham (+23) and Chelsea (+21) are and how poor Newcastle’s (+7) is.
And winning at Anfield has become far less daunting proposition for visiting teams with Liverpool losing four of their last eight at their former fortress.
However, ninth-placed Liverpool have motivation of their own as they try to avoid their worst finish to a Premier League campaign in 57 years.
The highest the Reds can finish this season is seventh and to have any chance of achieving that, they will have to beat Chelsea and Swansea at Liberty Stadium.
And Liverpool (49 points) will be desperate to avoid finishing lower than fierce Merseyside rivals Everton who are seventh on 53 points and play Newcastle in their final match.
Everton have not finished above the Reds since 2004-05.
Chelsea head into the match in decent league form, their 2-0 loss to Newcastle last week ending their six-match unbeaten run in the league.
But the same can’t be said for Liverpool who have seven points from a possible 24 before this clash.