— Ivanovic also reopens old wounds with jibe ahead of Anfield clash
Chelsea return to Anfield tomorrow seven months after wrecking the Kop’s title dream, with Jose Mourinho’s players promising a lesson in how to handle the pressure of title race.
And Chelsea midfielder Nemanja Matic has stoked the fires again ahead of Saturday lunchtime’s re-run, with an apparent jibe at Liverpool’s attitude after last season’s encounter.
‘Nobody’s happy when you lose a game and they weren’t happy after that game,’ said Matic. ‘Many teams have tried to park the bus in front of the goal against us, but we win. It’s not easy. If you defend you have to know how to defend. It was 2-0. We showed we have quality.’
Liverpool were top of the Barclays Premier League in April, closing in on a first title since 1990, when Mourinho sent out a weakened team in a fixture which preceded a Champions League semi-final.
It was a clash laced with enmity, with Chelsea upset the game had not been moved to help their preparations for Atletico Madrid and Rodgers angry with Mourinho’s defensive tactics.
This time, the Londoners are top of the league, unbeaten in 17 games this season and confident they can extend that against a Liverpool team, which has spluttered since they sold Luis Suarez.
‘It is a different story,’ said Matic. ‘We are ready. We are first and we want to stay there. We will play a different way and I’m very happy because we will play one big game on Saturday.’
Chelsea will be full strength, without distractions. They will adopt different tactics and are determined not to stumble as Liverpool did in April. ‘It was three games to go, they were fighting for the title and they wanted to win,’ said Branislav Ivanovic. They struggled in a must-win. Last season was completely different.
‘Now we are going there on top of the table. We know it’s difficult but also our team knows how to win there. It will be very exciting. We know what we have to do. We have a lot of things to do to be successful and get points from Anfield.’
‘It’s one of the massive, crucial games for us,’ said Ivanovic. ‘For this kind of game you always have to find extra motivation and it’s not about the tightness or fitness.
‘We have two days to recover, this is usual and it’s not our first time to play that. We know and we are professional, and we have to do a lot of things to be ready for that game.’