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Liverpool look to dynamic duo to pierce Chelsea

LIVERPOOL will rely on their dynamic duo of Steven Gerrard and Fernando Torres to penetrate the Premier League's tightest defence in tomorrow's Champions League quarter-final first leg against Chelsea.

The Anfield clash will be the ninth in the two clubs' five-season Champions League series. None of the previous eight has been decided by a margin of more than one goal.

However, Torres and Gerrard have developed a wonderful partnership that makes Liverpool a match for any team in Europe when in full flow as the side demonstrated scoring four goals against Real Madrid then Manchester United last month.

Gerrard has already scored a remarkable 21 goals this season and Torres 11 and each has had a hand in many of the other's goals.

Gerrard's dynamic, forceful runs have been at the heart of Liverpool for years but, with the thoughtful running and magical touch of Torres in front of him, the midfielder has reminded everyone that he is also a master of the telling through-ball.

"Stevie has been getting a lot of praise from some of the best players in the world. That is quite right because I think he is the best in the world," Torres told Liverpool's website

"He is a great team player but he can also win a game on his own when maybe we are not playing so well. I cannot think of a player I would rather be playing with."


Chelsea's Frank Lampard is matching Gerrard just about stride for stride and is not far behind on the goals front with 16.

He got one of those in another man-of-the-match performance in Saturday's 2-0 win at Newcastle United when Chelsea took the sting out of the crowd excited by the return of Alan Shearer.

They will aim for a repeat of that tomorrow, though quieting The Kop on a European night is easier said than done.

Striker Didier Drogba missed the Newcastle game with an ankle injury and coach Guus Hiddink said he will delay a decision on the Ivorian for as long as possible.

If he does play Drogba should expect a sympathetic welcome from the Liverpool fans who are preparing to mark the 20th anniversary of the Hillsborough disaster on April 15 - a day after the second leg of the quarter-final.

Drogba and Chelsea team mate Salomon Kalou were involved in last week's World Cup qualifier against Malawi in Abidjan when the collapse of a stadium wall caused the death of 19 fans.

"We've talked about the tragedy in Abidjan with the whole squad," said Hiddink. "Winning and losing are very important but this showed there are other things in life to put them into some kind of perspective."

Probable teams:

Liverpool: 25-Pepe Reina; 17-Alvaro Arbeloa, 23-Jamie Carragher, 37-Martin Skrtel, 22-Emiliano Insua; 14-Xabi Alonso, 20-Javier Mascherano; 18-Dirk Kuyt, 8-Steven Gerrard, 11-Albert Riera; 9-Fernando Torres

Chelsea: 1-Petr Cech; 2-Branislav Ivanovic, 33-Alex, 26-John Terry, 3-Ashley Cole; 5-Michael Essien, 12-John Obi Mikel, 13-Michael Ballack, 8-Frank Lampard; 11-Didier Drogba, 39-Nicolas Anelka

Referee: Claus Bo Larsen (Denmark)


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