By Rob Stewart
Former Liverpool defender John Scales is eagerly looking forward to the Reds' visit to Chelsea in the Premier League on Sunday for a game neither team can afford to lose.
The Blues need three points to keep up the pressure on the Manchester clubs at the top of the table, while Liverpool could do with a repeat of last season's 1-0 win at Stamford Bridge to galvanise their push for a Champions League place.
As well as being a showdown between two of the pillars of English football, there will also be a string of fascinating duels between the likes of John Terry and Luis Suarez, who have both been caught up in race rows of late.
Plus there is the mouth-watering prospect of former Reds hero Fernando Torres locking horns with old team-mate Jamie Carragher.
Speaking exclusively to Goal.com, former centre-half Scales, who helped Liverpool to an FA Cup final during his two-year spell at the club and is now busy as project leader for the 'Exhibition of Champions' at Wembley Stadium, has given his thoughts on where Sunday's game could be won and lost.
|John Terry vs Luis Suarez
"John Terry would probably be better off with an aerial duel against Andy Carroll, but he will still be relishing the prospect of facing Luis Suarez even though he has been in great form for Liverpool.
"Suarez’s movement is phenomenal and he has caused problems for every team he has faced since he burst onto the scene with Liverpool, and I expect him to be a constant menace against Chelsea.
"John might not be the quickest central defender in the business but his ability to marshal his back four will be crucial, because Suarez is such a mercurial player who not only always seems to find himself space but has a great touch and an abundance of skill.
"The fact that Villas-Boas is trying to play a more expansive brand of football will inevitably mean the back four are exposed more than they were under previous Chelsea managers.
"They have had their defensive problems and the 1-0 win at Blackburn was only their first clean sheet since August. There has been a lot of chopping and changing in terms of personnel but they need things to settle down.
"Both have been in the headlines for the wrong reasons of late, so this is a chance for the pair of them to change the tone of coverage."
|Jose Bosingwa v Stewart Downing
"Stewart Downing reminded Liverpool fans of exactly what he was capable of when he played so well for England against Sweden because that was a performance reminiscent of his early-season form at Anfield.
"He has been one of their better performers this season, but the spotlight at Liverpool can be unforgiving because the expectations and the pressure are so much higher than at many other clubs. So, if your form slips then it becomes a big issue.
"The England display will have given Stewart a timely boost and should give him the belief that he can do well at the top. He is a very hard-working winger, which is great for his own full-back, and his delivery of crosses is first-class with either foot.
"He could do with that first goal for Liverpool and in Jose Bosingwa, he will be up against a right-back who looks better when he is attacking rather than defending, and that should encourage Downing."
|Daniel Sturridge vs Glen Johnson
"Glen Johnson will be aiming to show Chelsea fans what they are missing and that Jose Mourinho was wrong to let him go to Portsmouth before he joined Liverpool.
"His season has still to take off because of injury but when he gets going, he is one of the best defenders in the country. With his pace, he rarely gets out-ran, and he is comfortable in possession and supplements the attack very well.
"He might not get much of a chance to overlap at the Bridge but he now needs a good run of games to force his way back into the England reckoning and make a point to Chelsea supporters.
"It won’t be easy because he will up against Daniel Sturridge, who is one of those players that can play anywhere along the front-line, which is great for Villas-Boas because it means that his forwards can be very fluid.
"I see he has been talking about wanting to play down the middle, which is fine because it just shows how much confidence he possesses, but with Fernando Torres around he will have to accept that he will play in a wider role.
"He is only 22 so he is still learning his craft but he has plenty going for him. He has a good work ethic, good feet, pace and he’s a good finisher who never seems to let his head go down."
|Fernando Torres vs Jamie Carragher
"The only thing that seems to be letting down Fernando Torres is confidence but the trouble is, a lack of confidence means a lack of form, and he has been there long enough without really taking off to mean that the pressure really is on his shoulders.
"They have options in Didier Drogba and Nicolas Anelka, but it is clear that Villas-Boas wants to keep faith with Torres not only because of his ability but because of his age and because of the money they have spent on him.
"It will be interesting to see how Jamie Carragher copes with Fernando because even though it is about time that he found his form, he is always going to be a threat. But then again Jamie will know more about Torres than anybody else because they worked side by side for so long.
"Jamie has the experience, the ability and the know-how to frustrate Fernando. But the Spaniard is capable of doing brilliant things as he showed for Liverpool against Chelsea last season at Anfield."
Former Liverpool centre-half John Scales is the project leader of Wembley Stadium's new 'Exhibition of Champions'. To book a place on the Wembley Tour and see the ‘Exhibition of Champions’ visit www.wembleystadium.com/tours or call 0844 800 2755
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