Chelsea hopes to regain home form against Liverpool

After to falling to Arsenal 5-3 in its last home match, Chelsea would have hoped for a slightly easier contest in its return to Stamford Bridge, but instead, the Blues will face a stern test when they host Liverpool on Sunday.

Chelsea are coming off of a 1-0 defeat of Blackburn at Ewood Park on Nov. 5, a much-needed win after falling to QPR and Arsenal in successive London derbies.

But while Chelsea will take solace from the fact that it will play in front of its home crowd on Sunday, the contest pits the Blues against a familiar foe.

Liverpool and Chelsea have experienced an intensified rivalry in recent years, highlighted by competitive encounters in the knockout round of the Champions League and Fernando Torres' high-profile move from Anfield to Stamford Bridge in January.

Defender Branislav Ivanovic is well aware of the threat Liverpool poses to Chelsea's title aspirations, but he believes Sunday's affair is essential to inching closer to the top of the table.

"Liverpool are a very strong team; they have a good attack and play quick football, so we need to be ready," Ivanovic told the club's website.

"We are at home, and we need to make that advantage count in order to close the gap at the top."

Chelsea enters the match with 22 points on the season, enough for fourth place in the Premier League. Liverpool sits three points shy of its weekend opponents, occupying sixth place.

Liverpool, unbeaten in its last six premier league matches, was held at home in a scoreless draw with Swansea City its last time out.

But what bodes well for the Reds ahead of Sunday's clash is manager Kenny Dalglish's record against Chelsea. As Liverpool boss, he has never lost to the Blues, winning eight and drawing three in a total of 11 meetings.

In Saturday's Premier League action, Manchester City will host Newcastle United in a clash of the only remaining unbeaten teams in England's top flight. Newcastle sits third with 25 points, while the Citizens lead the Premiership with 31 points.

Arsenal, in a rich vein of form, has not dropped points in a league match since a 2-1 defeat at the hands of Tottenham Hotspur on Oct. 2. The Gunners will look to secure its fifth consecutive win when they face Norwich City on Saturday.

Manchester United responded to its humiliating 6-1 loss against Manchester City on Oct. 23 by winning successive matches against Everton and Sunderland, both by a 1-0 score line. The champions will head to the Liberty Stadium to square off against a Swansea team that has conceded just 15 goals this season, a sound accomplishment thus far for the newly-promoted club.

Elsewhere on Saturday, last-place Wigan will host second-from-last Blackburn in a match of the Premier League bottom-feeders, while Bolton will be hopeful of securing its second-straight Premiership win with its tilt with West Bromwich at the Hawthorns.

Sunderland will host Fulham at The Stadium of Light, and Wolverhampton will look to win its second league match on the bounce when it faces Everton at Goodison Park.

Tottenham will host Aston Villa on Monday to round out the weekend's Premier League action. Spurs, tied with Chelsea for fourth place, will be looking for their fourth-straight victory in league play.