Chelsea vs Liverpool: Match preview and predicted line-ups
Antonio Conte and Jurgen Klopp will face up for the second time in as many months, though this Premier League clash on Friday night will be far more important than the pre-season friendly which saw The Blues run out 1-0 winners in the States.
Both sides have enjoyed positive starts to the season in what has become one of modern football’s greatest rivalries over the last decade, and after Liverpool won their first game at Stamford Bridge since 2011 last season, Conte’s men will be itching to set the record straight.
Chelsea have proven themselves to be reliable and strong contenders for the title already this season, even though they are yet to play to their full potential. Late victories over West Ham and Watford were good, if not convincing, before thrashing Burnley and then coming from behind to draw against Swansea last weekend.
Still unbeaten, the Blues sit second in the table as the closest challengers to Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City and will need to remain unbeaten if they are to continue to apply the pressure on the title favourites and early league leaders.
Liverpool on the other hand, have been hugely unpredictable – which in itself is exactly as we would expect. From the superb, with convincing victories over Arsenal and Leicester, to the woeful – an appalling defeat at Burnley – Jurgen Klopp’s side have struggled to find consistency. That said, they do appear to finally be finding their stride and backed up claims that they have one of the most threatening attacking line-ups in the league last weekend as they dismantled Claudio Ranieri’s backline.
The Reds have already shown that they can challenge the best this season, taking seven points from a possible nine against last season’s top three, and will be looking to continue that form at Stamford Bridge.
Chelsea predicted starting XI Liverpool predicted starting XI
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Two players could be set for debuts as David Luiz replaces injured captain John Terry and Marcos Alonso is expected to be preferred to Branislav Ivanovic, who has failed to impress Antonio Conte in the opening weeks of the season, with Alonso’s pace preferred to cope with the threat of Sadio Mane. The midfield and attack is likely to remain unchanged, with Cesc Fabregas again restricted to the bench.
Simon Mignolet is expected to retain the number one shirt despite Loris Karius’ return to fitness, but Lucas Leiva is likely to miss out as Klopp will favour Dejan Lovren’s physicality to battle with Diego Costa in central defence.
Philippe Coutinho is a contender to start again having been ill last weekend, but it seems unlikely that the front three will change after last weekend’s superb display at Anfield, and Emre Can is also likely to miss out on a start on his return from injury for the same reason in midfield. Indeed, Klopp has said in his pre-match press conference that giving the German international some consistent time on the training field is now the number one priority rather than rushing him back to the first team fold.
Suspensions and Injuries
The Blues will be without their captain and leader after John Terry strained his ankle ligaments late on in last weekend’s fixture against Swansea City, which looks set to keep him out of action for around two weeks and certainly ruling him out of this Friday’s clash. With Kurt Zouma still out with a cruciate ligament injury until late October, it opens the door to David Luiz to make his second debut for the club, having been an unused substitute at the Liberty Stadium after completing a £30 million move from PSG.
Liverpool are close to having a fully fit squad as Emre Can looks set to play some part on Friday if selected, having missed the last three games with an ankle problem. Whilst it is unclear if Can will be fit enough to start, he rejoined training on Tuesday and is likely to feature.
Dejan Lovren is also expected to return from a head injury which kept him out of the visit of Leicester City last weekend. Mamadou Sakho may also be available as he nears recovery from an Achilles injury but is unlikely to be called up to the squad by Klopp, and youngsters Sheyi Ojo and Joe Gomez are also expected to soon make returns, though this weekend’s fixture is likely to come too soon for them.
It’s never easy to predict how Liverpool will perform, particularly in such a high pressure match. That said, when Klopp’s men have slipped up of late, it has mostly been in the games which they would be expected to win, so they may well step up to the plate when they visit London. Liverpool’s attacking power and pace could be too much for David Luiz to handle on debut, and Chelsea will have to be at their best in order to keep a clean sheet, something they’ve managed just once in four games so far this season against four sides in the lower half of the league.
It certainly looks set to be a high scoring affair, with Diego Costa on form, but our instincts say that Liverpool might surprise the Blues and grab the extra goal they need to give them a shock Liverpool win.
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