BPL This Weekend: Can rested Liverpool beat Chelsea? Arsenal, Man City wary of UCL hangover, more

IMAGE, MATT KREMKAU FOR EMPIRE OF SOCCER

By MATTHEW LEVINE
Staff Writer

Brendan Rodgers rested several players in Liverpool’s clash against Real Madrid mid-week with the game against Chelsea in mind. However, just how effective that mentality was will be proven this weekend.

Liverpool has not looked good in their two recent Premier League fixtures and perhaps giving some players a breather was needed, maybe more so mentally. Steven Gerrard has already been reminded of his slip against Chelsea that all but ended the Reds title hopes. The experienced and long-time Liverpool player should put in an inspired performance with the Blues visiting Anfield.

Also, Liverpool ‘s ability to find more goals is a key talking point.  Liverpool has finished the last two games scoreless and the Mario Balotelli drought continues. However, it shouldn’t be all on him. Other players like Adam Lallana and Lazar Markovic if they find themselves in the attack need to start contributing much more.

Chelsea has been the best side in the Premier League and will look to continue that run against the Reds. They’ve also been the deadliest moving forward. With Diego Costa lurking in dangerous areas, the Liverpool backline will certainly be in for a long day.

What To Look For

1. European Hangover– Manchester City and Arsenal weren’t the only Premier League sides playing in Europe during the week, but the way their games went may lead to some hangover.

Man City just can’t seem to win in the Champions League, losing at home to CSKA Moscow. City has been in plenty fine form in the Premier League, but Manuel Pellegrini will need to manage his side. City can not afford to let the doubt that has been seen in the Champions League creep into their Premier League campaign. If it does, it can very well derail any title bid.

For Arsenal, they absolutely capitulated. Having a three-goal lead against Anderlecht at home, it’d be thought the Gunners would secure the win. Instead, they ended up with a draw — and had there been more time in the game, may have lost it.

Having a game in such close fashion can either be a help or hurt Arsenal this weekend. Getting back on the pitch to erase the bad taste that the draw left out of their mouth is imperative. However, they will hope they’ve had enough time to correct what went wrong in the latter stages to play more like the Arsenal for about 60 minutes and not the one in the last 30.

2. When will it be Jozy’s time?– Sunderland’s back up striker Jozy Altidore celebrated his 25th birthday this week.

As time keeps going, it is imperative Altidore gets a solid run in the team. Unfortunately, despite the Black Cats struggles, it doesn’t appear Gus Poyet trusts Altidore to start games.

With time ticking, the American striker could be inching nearer to a Wearside exit.

However, from a Sunderland perspective it begs the question, why not Altidore? The Black Cats certainly need a spark and Altidore could potentially provide that.

For now, it seems Steven Fletcher will get the nod and in fairness, he did score twice in a Monday win over Crystal Palace.

For the long run, Altidore needs games and Sunderland needs to results to not get dragged into a relegation dog-fight. If the 25-year-old isn’t getting time soon, the clock will strike midnight on Altidore’s Sunderland career.

3. Aston Villa to keep sinking?– Aston Villa started the season brightly, but have lost six straight. The most recent, a 2-1 loss to Tottenham, might be the toughest in the recent run. After scoring a goal, it looked as if Villa might hang on for a win. Instead two late goals saw them drop all three points.

The slide down may continue with a West Ham side that has been very surprising this season and one boasting a much improved attack.

If Villa are going to improve, it will have to start from the back. Brad Guzan has played well, but defensively it’s not been good enough. Possibly the pressure of knowing the club isn’t scoring enough has affected them, but they need to concede less goals.

The club has only scored five goals in 10 games and until that ultimately changes, Aston Villa will find themselves at the bottom of the table.

4. Burnley needs a win– While Aston Villa could use a victory, there isn’t a club in the Premier League that needs one more than Burnley. With 10 games into the season, Burnley is the only side to not record a win so far. They are currently at the bottom of the table.

Up next is Hull City and a club that is only a few spots above them in the table.

While Burnley looks like a team headed towards relegation, despite plenty of games to play, the best way to change that is to beat sides around you. Burnley has been close a few times this season, but they need to get over the hump this weekend.