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Last Updated: Tuesday, 27 September 2005, 07:29 GMT 08:29 UK
New look for English rivals
By Dan Warren

Liverpool and Chelsea go head-to-head once more in the Champions League on Wednesday.

Michael Essien (left) and Peter Crouch will hope to have an impact
Michael Essien (left) and Peter Crouch will hope to have an impact
It is only five months since the two teams played each other in their tense semi-final - when the Reds triumphed 1-0 on aggregate.

Yet after a busy summer's transfer activity, both sides will have a different look to them when they line-up at Anfield.

BBC Sport looks at the key changes for both teams and how they are likely to affect the balance of play.

GOALKEEPERS

Liverpool's Jerzy Dudek became a hero on Merseyside as his Grobbelaar-esque dancing antics proved effective in the Champions League final penalty shoot-out against AC Milan.

Jose Reina
Reina has been an ever-present for Liverpool this season
Yet, despite his popularity, the Pole has not been rock-solid between the sticks.

Summer signing Jose Reina has been ever-present this season and has generally impressed - but Chelsea will have noted Saturday's fumble against Birmingham, which cost Liverpool a goal.

In contrast, Blues boss Jose Mourinho is in the enviable position of having one of the world's most capable keepers in Petr Cech.

Cech is a key reason why Chelsea have conceded only four goals in all competitions since the semi-final against Liverpool in May and the Czech remains a formidable barrier for opposition strikers.

DEFENCE

Chelsea's extraordinary season in 2004-05 was based on a remarkable defence.

Paulo Ferreira
Ferreira was absent for last season's semi-final through injury
If anything, it will be even stronger on Wednesday than it was back in May.

John Terry, Ricardo Carvalho and William Gallas played in both legs last season and now Mourinho's first-choice right-back Paulo Ferreira is available.

A broken foot sidelined the Portuguese star for the semi-final - leaving Mourinho to try the erratic Glen Johnson in the first leg and the unspectacular Geremi in the second.

Liverpool will be hoping that Jamie Carragher - arguably the best player in each of the two legs last season - produces a similarly imperious display.

The Englishman will be joined by Steve Finnan and Sami Hyypia, who both played in last season's tie.

Djimi Traore was excellent for Liverpool in both legs but has seen his chances limited by injury this season.

Promising left-back Stephen Warnock may well step in - although Reds coach Rafael Benitez might prefer the experience of the Mali man if he is fit.

MIDFIELD

When Steven Gerrard lifted the Champions League trophy for the Reds last season, many felt it would be his last act in a Liverpool shirt.

On Wednesday, he will line up against the team numerous pundits thought would be paying his wages this season.

When the penny dropped at Stamford Bridge that the England star would not be moving south, Chelsea made Lyon's Michael Essien their 24.4m prize capture in midfield.

Tiago has since left Chelsea for Essien's former club Lyon.

However, Ghanaian Essien has a proven Champions League pedigree, scoring five goals in 10 games last season.

Meanwhile, Gerrard is established as one of the most energetic and influential performers at the top level.

It will be a fascinating tussle between the two - but the likes of Claude Makelele, Frank Lampard, John Arne Riise and Xabi Alonso are all capable of turning the match.

ATTACK

Chelsea will start Wednesday's match with an all-new attack compared to last season and Liverpool will, rightly, be concerned.

The Blues' lack of width in the semi-final undoubtedly helped Liverpool.

Damien Duff missed both legs with a hamstring problem, while Arjen Robben managed only 22 ineffectual minutes in the second leg and was clearly injured.

Hernan Crespo celebrates scoring against Liverpool for AC Milan in last season's final
Crespo scored against Liverpool while playing for AC Milan
Both should be fit for Wednesday's encounter and will be looking to provide Hernan Crespo with plenty to work with.

Mourinho is likely to prefer the Argentine to Didier Drogba, who endured a miserable time against the Reds in May.

By contrast, Crespo found the net twice in five minutes for AC Milan in the Champions League final.

Liverpool's giant striker Peter Crouch will vie with Djibril Cisse for the lone striker role, with Milan Baros having departed for Aston Villa.

Neither player will find it easy against the likes of Carvalho and Terry and much will depend on the support he gets.

Luis Garcia, the man who scored the goal that put Liverpool in the Champions League final, has a pivotal role.

The Reds are set to choose between Dietmar Hamann and Mohamed Sissoko because their other supporting midfielder, Igor Biscan, has gone to Panathinaikos.

It will require something special to unlock Chelsea's miserly defence.

But with four group matches to follow Wednesday's encounter, both teams know there is plenty of time to recover should they slip up.




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