Chelsea v Liverpool - The PL Preview
On Sunday afternoon Graham Potter was relieved of his managerial post, with the reds now perhaps facing a ‘new manager’ bounce. It appears that Potters former assistant, Bruno Salter, will be instated as the interim boss, therefore it is unclear what reaction there will actually be. Todd Boehly has been very successfully creating a circus at Stamford Bridge, with a squad of highly paid individuals now led by an assistant coach.
Both sets of supporters despaired at their respective weekend results, which fell in line with the entire campaign feeling of disappointment. This game has been an ongoing spectacle game for close to twenty years, however, this game will represent a battle for nothing more than mid table superiority. Whereas once Manchester United and Arsenal were once the teams to be chased, the result of this game may only see one hoping to grab the coat tails of either Brentford or Brighton. Transition is the new word of the season.
Chelsea has a vast squad of talent to choose from, though a fair few injuries to key assets. The Blues last outing saw them soundly beaten at home, with a 0-2 loss to Aston Villa culminating in the dismissal of their former Brighton manager. The two games prior had seen a 2-2 draw with Everton (at the Bridge), after a 1-3 away victory to now manager-less, Leicester City. In terms of availability, Armando Broja, Cesar Azpilicueta, Thiago Silva, Edouard Mendy and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, are all confirmed as out injured. Despite some concerns over their fitness, Raheem Sterling and Wesley Fofana should be available for selection.
The starting line-up will see Kepa Arrizabalaga start in goal, behind a likely back three of Reece James, Kalidou Koulibaly and a recalled Benoît Badiashile. At wing back, expect Ben Chilwell and perhaps Conor Gallagher to start, with a central midfield trio of N’Golo Kanté, Enzo Fernández and Mateo Kovačić. João Félix and Kai Havertz will be hoping to retain their attacking roles, despite some lacklustre efforts in front of goal. Chelsea currently sits 11th in the table, with just 38 points taken from 28 games played. It does appear that the recent £600m outlay has averted relegation for this season.
Liverpool come into this game on the back of two Premier League losses. The away performances at Manchester City and Bournemouth produced 4-1 and 1-0 results, which were underpinned by a lack of effort and desire from the reds. Jürgen Klopp’s men currently sit 8th in the league, with 42 points taken from their 27 games played. They are now eight points outside of the Champions League places, with qualification for next seasons European showpiece now very unlikely.
In terms of Anfield injuries, Calvin Ramsay and Stefan Bajčetić are definitely out, whereas Thiago Alcantara and Luis Díaz are still being held back. Naby Keita has sustained yet another injury, however his inclusion would have been unlikely anyway.
Alisson Becker will start in goal, with the giant pair of Virgil and Ibrahima Konaté starting ahead of him. Kostas Tsimikas should be recalled for Robbo at left-back, whilst Trent Alexander Arnold may also retain his place, though a nod for James Milner is on the cards. Jordan Henderson, Fabinho and Harvey Elliott, should start this game, with only Arthur Melo a likely man to break up that trio. The attack has to see Darwin recalled, with Mohamed Salah and Cody Gakpo remaining in the starting eleven. Diogo Jota may come out for this game, with Roberto Firmino even recalled for one of the middle men. If Klopp did want to try and change the situation, then a switch to 3-4-3 is an option, though an unlikely one.
This is a game between two English giants, that are in both horrendous form and league positions. Martin Tyler will be salivating at the opportunity to commentate on this game, with both sides so far back on his beloved Manchester United. In terms of what will happen, as Tyler would say, there’ll be some goals and some stuff will happen before that. In all honesty, the reds should have enough in Darwin and Mo to overwhelm their big spending competitors, with a desire to exploit an unsure and ever changing back line. The reds will probably have to cope with a vintage N’Golo Kanté performance, but should have enough control to their game in order to overcome.
Player to watch – Darwin Núñez
Score Prediction: Chelsea 2 – 3 Liverpool