Looking forward to the weekend Liverpool take on Chelsea in the late Saturday game. This game has become a modern day classic, a fixture involving one of the world’s most historically successful clubs pitted against a European superpower of recent years. Both teams will be desperate to secure victory with a vast amount at stake. A win for Liverpool would draw them level on points with Chelsea and represent a comeback after a disappointing second half saw them draw with Sevilla. Whilst a win for the premier league champions would ensure they kept pace with Manchester United and runaway table toppers Manchester City.
Liverpool vs Chelsea: A Modern Day Classic
Liverpool have been hit and miss this season boasting a blisteringly quick and ultimately devastating attack but a woefully leaky defence that has been the bane of Klopp’s tenure. Equally Chelsea have been far too lazy at the back for Conte’s liking although in recent games he seems to have found a more suitable system that coincided with the return from injury of main man N’Golo Kante.
Matip Major Boost for Reds
Liverpool will hope that fan favourite Joel Matip will be fit for the clash against Chelsea. Following their draw against Sevilla, Klopp was quoted as saying that the player has returned to “full training, so all good” and followed this with the thoughts that “he will be ready for Saturday”.
Since joining Liverpool the player has made 49 first team appearances and boasts an impressive ability in the air and with the ball at his feet, something the Reds majorly miss when he is out. With a lack of top class defensive options at the mangers disposal he will be desperately hoping that the centre back passes any last minute fitness tests.
Morata Vital to Chelsea’s Game
The poorly handled and very public loss of Costa over the summer and Conte’s evident lack of faith in Michy Batshuayi, a great amount of pressure has been mounted on Alvaro Morata to adjust quickly to a notoriously difficult league whilst simultaneously performing at the peak of his powers. He has done so to impressive effect.
His importance to the team was underlined in the Champions League fixture vs Qarabag. Despite an opportunity to qualify for the last 16 guaranteed with victory in this fixture, Conte saw fit to rest his main striker and play with a “false 9” in the form of Hazard, flanked by Willian and Pedro. Many will point to the level of the opposition and the relative ease with which they were dispatched but it was an obvious attempt by Conte to ensure his first choice striker was fit and ready to play in the important game Saturday.
With 12 goals and assists (8 goals and 4 assists) in his first 11 premier league games he will be key if Chelsea want to win this fixture.
Liverpool Last 6:
D – W – W – W – W – L
Liverpool have responded strongly since their resounding loss to Tottenham, they followed the defeat with a 4 game win streak, 13 goals and only 1 conceded with an impressive 3-0 victory over Southampton. Following this they drew with Sevilla and whilst a draw away at Sevilla in isolation may seem respectable it is the manner of their capitulation after being 3-0 up at half term that will most readily concern the manager. They need a rapid fire response to this and will hope to get that on Saturday against Chelsea.
Chelsea Last 6:
W – W – W – L – W – W
The Chelsea form book looks similar to Liverpool’s and boasts 5 wins alongside 1 loss. The loss came against a strong Roma side where the Blues looked all out of sorts and really struggled to get going. Since then they have followed a tactically impressive and symbolically important 1-0 victory over close rivals Manchester United with two morale boosting 4-0 wins which will set them in great stead going into this weekend’s vital game against Liverpool.
Liverpool: Liverpool are not expected to have any fresh injury news with Ojo, Origi and Clyne all out but will more than likely be handed a boost by Matip who is expected to return to the starting line up. Lallana also faces a late fitness test but at best will make the subs bench as he continues his recovery and inches closer to a return to the first team fold.
Chelsea: Chelsea will find themselves without the option of Batshuayi as he still faces fitness concerns whilst neither Boga or Musonda are ready to return to action. Victor Moses has been training regularly at Cobham and is 50/50 as to whether or not he will be able to play, as with Lallana for Liverpool he will likely face a late fitness test and may pop up as a figure on the bench.
Liverpool (4-3-3): Mignolet, Gomez, Lovren, Matip, Moreno, Wjnaldum, Henderson, Coutinho, Salah, Firmino, Mane
Chelsea (3-5-2): Cortois, Zappacosta, Azpilicueta, Christensen, Cahill, Alonso, Kante, Bakayoko, Fabregas, Hazard, Morata
There is no love lost between these two sides as the fires still blazes strong from the regular meetings in the early 2000s which saw Mourinho and Benitez pit their wits against each other time again in League and Cup competitions domestically and continentally. The managers may have changed but rest assured the intensity and will to win on both sides remains as strong as ever.
Recent meetings in the premier league favour the hosts on the day as their last five fixtures have thrown up 3 draws and 2 wins for Liverpool. Conte will be looking to change that on Saturday but will have his work cut out against a side that at home have scored 12 whilst only conceding 1 in just 6 games on route to taking 14/16 points and not yet tasting defeat.
Much of this fixture will hinge on which of the two sides can have more of their match winners turn up on the day. Liverpool have a scintillating attacking force that can punish any defence within seconds of counter attacking brilliance that must be appreciated but Chelsea boast one the top players in the world in Eden Hazard who seems to have sparked an almost telepathic connection with the striker in form; Alvaro Morata.
Expect both teams to score which is almost an inevitability given Liverpool’s envious home record and Chelsea’s wealth of attacking talent coupled with Liverpool’s less than assured defence. It seems the first goal could present a crucial turning point in the game, the side that finds themselves behind will have to open up gaps that are likely to be exploited by the opposition.
Chelsea look like they have turned a corner in recent weeks and Conte has altered his 3-4-3 of last season to a 3-5-2 this season that seems to offer Fabregas the freedom to create and relinquishes Hazard of defensive responsibility. Given this recent upturn in form and Liverpool’s shaky defence expect Chelsea to take the win in an exciting game.
Liverpool 1-3 Chelsea.
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