Chelsea vs Liverpool
Venue: Stamford Bridge
TV: BT Sport 1
Referee: Andre Marriner
For the first time in LFC’s history, they have crashed out of the League Cup at the first hurdle in successive seasons. That is what that incredible Eden Hazard goal did to the Reds on Wednesday night at Anfield, in the first of this double-header against Chelsea; the Blues managed to come from behind and win 2-1 on Wednesday.
Chelsea are Liverpool’s bogey team and have been for some time now. The rivalry between the two has been completely manufactured over the years across many gritty games but it is Liverpool who have come short when these sides have met. Did you know Liverpool have only managed to beat Chelsea in two of the last 16 meetings? No, I didn’t either until totting up the numbers, which is some stat from two Premier League giants.
Wednesday night saw many changes across both sides in the Carabao Cup clash but it was Liverpool who took the lead through a Daniel Sturridge rebound, his acrobatic effort after the Chelsea keeper was forced into a save from Naby Keita. In the final 10 minutes Chelsea had flipped the game on its head, a free kick whipped in by Eden Hazard had Ross Barkley’s header force a save from Alisson only for Emerson to prod home into an empty net for the equaliser.
Eden Hazard then showed a moment of individual brilliance. If you haven’t seen it, please go and find it as it really was a contender for goal of the tournament. The Belgian started the move off in the middle of the field, nutmegging a Liverpool player, playing a five-yard one-two pass with a teammate and then turning his attention to the Liverpool box. He casually beat two players, the ball was like a magnet to his feet, and as he came into the box he switched direction, beating a third player and then lashed an effort across goal which found the net. Stunning work from the Chelsea winger and mission accomplished for Sarri.
Jurgen Klopp will be planning instant revenge here and will have that chance on Saturday evening; it will be all guns blazing and they need to turn the negativity from Wednesday night into positivity now that they have two competitions to focus on between now and January.
Chelsea will take great motivation in knowing they have beaten Liverpool already, the only team to do so this season and the only team to even stop them from taking the win. This fixture last season was played in GW37, right at the end of the season where Chelsea scored a first-half goal and managed shut Liverpool out for the entirety of the match to win 1-0.
I can’t imagine a scoreline like this on Saturday as I think both sides will score and go for the win too. A win for Chelsea will see them overtake Liverpool in the table which, given Liverpool’s incredible start, would be a big statement from the Blues this season and show that they are right up there with the very best.
The media have not stopped with praise for Liverpool thus far so to see them possibly pipped to first place after this weekend will put things into perspective for everyone involved in the Premier League. A win for Liverpool, however, will solidify first place and they would go seven wins from seven in the league.
Eden Hazard is currently the top goal scorer with five goals and two assists, will he add to his tally here and take Chelsea past Liverpool? Olivier Giroud has five goals in his last six appearances against Liverpool, including the winner in last season’s encounter, could he muster up another goal here? All I know is, this will be some game with so much at stake; certainly not one to miss.
Chelsea have defensive duo Antonio Rudiger and Andreas Christensen reported to be touch and go before Saturday evening. The Dane limped off on Wednesday night at Anfield whilst the German was substituted against West Ham at the weekend. In turn, this could leave Sarri short at the back with David Luiz and Gary Cahill the likely replacements.
With such a big clash, it would not be ideal for Sarri to not have his first choice players in the starting XI this weekend. Pedro is another who picked up a shoulder injury in the Europa League clash last week, he missed out at the weekend with West Ham and also the Carabao Cup clash with Liverpool. He’s unlikely to feature here with Willian his obvious replacement.
Virgil Van Dijk is the main concern at the moment for Liverpool who picked up damaged ribs against PSG last week. He did start the game against Southampton at the weekend but was eventually forced off with Liverpool already winning 3-0. Klopp stated this was precautionary and he did mention he may be rested for the Carabao Cup clash, which he was.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain still remains a long-standing absentee, whilst Dejan Lovren played 90 minutes in the Carabao Cup and this would suggest he is now available for selection, however I don’t see the German moving away from his Gomez/Van Dijk partnership which has worked so well so far. Adam Lallana and Divock Origi are both close to returning but Saturday will likely come too soon.
Predicted Starting XI’s:
Chelsea: Kepa; Azpilicueta, Luiz, Cahill, Alonso; Jorginho, Kante, Kovacic; Willian; Giroud, Hazard.
Liverpool: Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Gomez, Van Dijk, Robertson; Henderson, Milner, Keita; Mane, Firmino, Salah.
Score Prediction: Chelsea 2 Liverpool 2
Honours even for me in this one as I can see both sides mostly cancelling each other out. The attacking threat at both ends of the pitch should prevail over each defence, definitely a few goals but the points will split. Liverpool are on a run of 14 league matches against Chelsea where they have failed to keep a clean sheet, which is the longest run against any opponent at this current time in top-flight football.