Liverpool host Chelsea on Thursday night in a match that will have huge ramifications in the race for a Champions League spot. Both sides could yet finish in the top four, but a win for either side would be a huge boost for their hopes. The recent home form of Liverpool will be a concern for Jurgen Klopp and they will be coming up against a manager that hasn’t tasted defeat in English football. Both managers are regarded as world class coaches and the pair have shared a similar route to the top. This will be their first battle in the Premier League and it will be one that tells us a lot about the direction of both teams.
The weekend was a positive one for Liverpool, as they have moved within two points of the top four. A win on Thursday will see them move into those positions and that will give them confidence going into the run in. That said, there are still ongoing concerns about their form, as they have lost their last four league matches at Anfield. A win over bottom-placed Sheffield United has stopped the rot, but they will need to now need to get a similar result at home against a rival to show that they are now getting back to their best.
Chelsea will believe they have been vindicated in their decision to change manager, as Thomas Tuchel is unbeaten and he has already made the team difficult to beat. There is still room for improvement, especially in attack, but the recent form does look to be sustainable. They are above Liverpool and are just one point off the top four. Tuchel will be looking higher up the table and try to reel in Leicester City in third. The match on Thursday could go a long way to achieving that aim if they manage to extend Liverpool’s losing run at home.
Liverpool have failed to score in five of their last nine Premier League matches. In their last four at home, the Reds have scored just once and that came from the penalty spot.
Chelsea have conceded just two goals in the nine matches that Thomas Tuchel has taken charge of across all competitions.
The recent few weeks have been disappointing for Mohamed Salah, therefore it isn’t a surprise that Liverpool’s form has suffered. The Reds are a much better team when they have the Egyptian on form in the final third. Luckily for the Reds, the attacker is too good to be out of form for too long. Even in this perceived period of poor form, Salah has scored seven times in his last nine appearances across all competitions. This highlights the high standards that he has set during his time at Anfield. Salah will always have a point to prove in this fixture, as he wasn’t given a fair chance when he was a Chelsea player. Despite this, he has only scored twice in seven Premier League appearances against the Blues. He will be desperate to improve on this record against this former club. Although the visitors have been better at the back since the appointment of Tuchel, their former attacker has the quality to cause them problems on Thursday.
The German international wasn’t named in the starting eleven at the weekend. It is likely that he is recalled for the trip to Anfield and he could be very effective on the counter attack. Timo Werner came close to joining Liverpool and many believe that the deal would have happened if the pandemic didn’t get in the way. He may feel that he has a point to prove to the club that he nearly joined. A break from the starting eleven may have been a positive for Werner. Liverpool are weak at the back, despite their weekend clean sheet against Sheffield United. There will be space to operate in down the flanks and the directness of Werner will be a real threat. In the Premier League, he has five goals and five assists. Werner will be looking to finish the season strongly to give him momentum to take into his second season in England. A strong performance against Liverpool could give him the confidence that he needs.
Fabinho and Alisson Becker are doubts for the match against Chelsea. Klopp won’t want to rush either player, especially the goalkeeper. Diogo Jota, Jordan Henderson, Virgil van Dijk, Joe Gomez and Joel Matip are all still unavailable.
Callum Hudson-Odoi is a doubt after picking up a knee injury against Manchester United. Thiago Silva won’t be back for this match, but he should return to action in the coming weeks.
This will be a fascinating match. Liverpool will likely take an attacking approach to the game, as they are the ones that are in a bigger need for points. Their injuries at the back mean that they have to try and outscore the opposition, as they won’t have a lot of belief that they can keep a clean sheet against Chelsea. The visitors are well organised and they will bring in players that carry a real threat on the counter attack. An away win is a real possibility. Liverpool have problems at the back, while Chelsea have been very good at shutting teams out.
Liverpool 0-1 Chelsea