Liverpool welcome Chelsea to Anfield for the first meeting between the two clubs this week on Wednesday in the Carabao Cup. These two sides are unbeaten in the Premier League and the two fixtures promise to be exciting for the neutral. It is unlikely that full-strength teams will be played by either club in mid-week, but the cup-tie will provide a good opportunity for fringe players to further their claim for regular action. Although this competition doesn’t carry a lot of prestige, both Jurgen Klopp and Maurizio Sarri will be keen to do well, as it is a chance to lift a trophy.
The home side have been excellent so far this season. It is obvious that they have stepped up their game once again under Klopp, who is building something very special at Anfield. It has been a long time since the Reds were a genuine title contender, but they certainly are this season. Their summer of recruitment has improved the quality in both the starting eleven and the squad. Furthermore, it has led to the improvement of players already at the club, such as Gini Wijnaldum, Joe Gomez and James Milner.
For Chelsea, there were low expectations when the season began due to the car-crash that was their summer transfer window. It took a long time to remove Antonio Conte and replace him with Maurizio Sarri. Then it took time to bring players in, while the constant speculation linking key players away from the club was unsettling. However, they have started the season in superb form and find themselves in third position, emerging as one of the three teams considered title contenders. It would be a surprise if they maintained the pace alongside Liverpool and Manchester City, but the recent weeks point towards a bright future under Sarri.
- Since Jurgen Klopp was appointed as manager, Liverpool have only lost one of their seven meetings with Chelsea. That came at the end of last season, as Olivier Giroud scored the winner at Stamford Bridge.
- Jorginho attempted an incredible 180 passes during the weekend’s match against West Ham United. This is the most that any Premier League player has attempted since the 2003-4 campaign.
The England international will always be a fans’ favourite at Anfield, due to his incredible scoring record with the club. It was thought that his Liverpool career was over earlier this year, as he was loaned out to West Brom. However, the Baggies were since relegated and he returned to Merseyside to become a member of the first-team squad again. Against PSG, he was a surprise inclusion in the starting eleven and he scored the opening goal of the match. Sturridge came close to scoring another in the second half and he showed that he still has something to offer. He is unlikely to be a regular starter unless a serious injury is suffered, but he is a good impact substitute and rotational attacking option. It is probable that he will be given another start against one of his former clubs on Wednesday and he will be the player that Chelsea fear. The 29-year-old always carries a goal threat and his positional sense in the final third means that chances will come his way.
The midfielder has yet to get going at Stamford Bridge after his January transfer to the club. Under Conte, he was given minimal chances to impress with only 131 minutes of Premier League football. Barkley has already earned more minutes under Sarri and looks set to be a more important player for the Blues. He will know that he isn’t a regular starter, but he continues to be given minutes on the pitch and it is down to him to prove that he deserves a bigger role. At the age of 24, he still has a lot of potential and the style of play being implemented by Sarri should suit his attacking tendencies. As a former Everton player, he will be keen to impress at Anfield and it could be an occasion that sees him launch his Chelsea career.
Virgil van Dijk is unlikely to be risked after being taken off during the victory over Southampton. Adam Lallana, Divock Origi and Dejan Lovren are all closing in on a return, but they are facing a battle to play during midweek. Joel Matip, Fabinho, Xherdan Shaqiri, Dominic Solanke and Daniel Sturridge will all be hoping to feature.
Like the home side, it is expected that Chelsea will make several changes to their starting eleven. Antonio Rudiger and Pedro are unlikely to be risked as they both suffer with knocks. Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Ross Barkley, Andreas Christensen and Cesc Fabregas could all be involved at Anfield.
It is going to be an entertaining game to watch as there will be wholesale changes for both teams. There will be an opportunity for fringe players to stake a claim for more regular action. Liverpool have the home advantage and will be hoping that means they can do what is required to reach the next round. This won’t be their main priority, but it is important that Klopp wins his first trophy as Reds’ manager this season. They should have enough to beat Chelsea, but goals should be expected at both ends.
Liverpool 3-2 Chelsea