Amazingly, both sides come into this game on the back of a win. With each club experiencing a very poor season thus far, they seem intent on fighting for mid-table supremacy rather than the normal Champions League places. With a lunch time kick off this Saturday, there is probably going to be a rough weekend ahead for one set of fans, though it’s tough to assume who will come out on top.
Chelsea overcame an impressive Crystal Place team last weekend, with a solid enough 1-0 home win. Their continual spending and management change this season, has made them very inconsistent, though at some point there will surely be a spell of good form. With Graham Potter having a rough opening spell at Stamford Bridge, this game will be a real test for the former Brighton boss.
On the availability front, the blues will be without N’Golo Kanté, Raheem Sterling, Joao Felix Sequeira, Denis Zakaria, Reece James, Wesley Fofana, Ben Chilwell, Armando Broja, Christian Pulisic, and Edouard Mendy. Though Kanté and Fofana have returned to training, it is unlikely either will be risked this weekend.
With Kepa Arrizabalaga starting in the Chelsea goal, a back four should see Trevoh Chalobah, Thiago Silva, Benoît Badiashile and Lewis Hall will be hoping to keep their places. If Potter does look to add more experience into his back line, César Azpilicueta, Kalidou Koulibaly and Marc Cucurella could conceivably come back into contention.
In midfield there is a certainty that Mateo Kovačić will come back into to partner either Jorginho, or the more energetic Conor Gallagher. It could be that all three start this game, with the inexperienced Carney Chukwuemeka dropping out. The wide options should see both Mason Mount and Hakim Ziyech retained, though expect an introduction of new signing, Mykhailo Mudryk, at some point. Up front, Kai Havertz will more than likely start as the false nine.
Liverpool come into this game after a good midweek showing, which saw them control and overcome Wolves 0-1 in their FA Cup replay. The injuries continue to be an irritation for Jurgen Klopp, who is still without Virgil van Dijk. Alongside him on the treatment table remains Luis Diaz, Diogo Jota, Arthur Melo, Bobby Firmino, and Kostas Tsimikas. Darwin Núñez should be back to start this game.
Alisson Becker will return in goal, with Joe Gomez and Ibrahima Konate likely to keep their central defensive spots. Trent Alexander Arnold and Andy Robertson will come straight back into the side, with a need to be more productive on the flanks. The midfield should see Naby Keita make a first Premier League start of the season, alongside Thiago Alcantara. In the holding midfield position, Stefan Bajčetić is now a genuine starting option, though a return for Fabinho is more likely. With Jordan Henderson having a torrid season of form, it would be surprising to see the captain start this game. Up front, Darwin should come straight back into the side, with both Mohamed Salah and Cody Gakpo vying to start either side of him. Though Harvey Elliott enjoyed a very good game on Tuesday, I would expect him to drop down to the substitutes bench.
This is a game that neither team can afford to lose, with so much ground to be made up on the top four places. With both teams in a transitional period, it will probably be the more settled team that takes control of the early stages. The West London team are a side that continues to make changes, therefore could struggle to hold off a slightly more confident home side.
Though the match could be a tight contest, it should still see the home side prevail. With a more settled midfield display in the week, least two of those three starters must be retained. With an abundance of attacking threat, I can see the Reds just about winning this encounter.
Player to watch – Darwin Núñez
Liverpool 2 – 1 Chelsea