Liverpool v Chelsea – The Premier League Preview
For this midweek encounter, Liverpool will entertain Chelsea in the 21st game of each respective club’s 2023/24 Premier League season. The West London outfit are in real transition, as they continue to search for consistency under new owners and a new head coach, Mauricio Pochettino.
The opening day of this season saw the reverse of this very fixture, as the reds stumbled to a disappointing 1-1 at Stanford Bridge. In the 20-league games that have since passed, the Merseyside giants are now in the hunt for Premier League glory, whereas the blues struggle to improve on their own mid-table standing.
Team News- Chelsea
On the injury front, the visitors will be without Wesley Fofana, Marc Cucurella, Lesley Ugochukwu, Trevoh Chalobah, Nicolas Jackson (AFCON), Romeo Lavia, and their club captain, Reece James. Despite those that have just returned to team training, Robert Sanchez, Malo Gusto, Christopher Nkunku, Levi Colwill, all remain doubts.
Chelsea’s Recent Form and Outlook
In terms of recent form, the blues recorded a home 0-0 draw last Friday, as Aston Villa forced a replay to their own ground in the FA Cup 4th round. Prior to that good result, an emphatic 6-1 win was undertaken against Middlesbrough, to secure a place in the upcoming EFL Cup final, against Liverpool.
The aggregate score of the two-legged Semi-Final ended 6-2. The most recent league outing was again a home game, which ended as a 1-0 victory against their visiting neighbours, Fulham.
After 21-games played this season, Chelsea have taken just 31-points. Next season will be equally tough for the former European champions, as their enormous spending will see them fall foul of profit and sustainability laws, which will incur a hefty points deduction in a year’s time.
Chelsea’s Predicted Lineup:
Below is my prediction on the starting eleven for the away side, in a 4-2-3-1 formation. The logical game-plan will be to frustrate and defend in numbers, given the reds ongoing ability to score a high volume of goals.
Though this fixture has often been in the favour of the rich London side (over the past twenty years), this game very much represents a change of direction, as Chelsea falter more than achieve. The midfield pairing will be an intriguing watch, with both once heavily linked to a move to Anfield.
Dorde Petrovic, Axel Disasi, Thiago Silva (C), Benoit Badiashile, Ben Chilwell, Moises Caicedo, Enzo Fernandez, Conor Gallagher, Raheem Sterling, Cole Palmer, Mykhailo Mudryk
Team News: Liverpool
In terms of injures, the unavailability of Thiago Alcântara is still a reality, whereas Stefan Bajčetić may be back midway through February. Joël Matip has sustained a season ending ACL injury, one that may have seen him play his last game for the club.
Kostas Tsimikas has made his return to light training, however, will not be risked just yet. Wataru Endō remains unavailable, as the Japan captain continues his participation in the 2024 Asia Cup.
The Egyptian King, Mohamed Salah, is currently injured and will continue his recovery from that hamstring complaint in Liverpool, given his nation were recently eliminated from the ongoing African Cup of Nations.
Liverpool’s Recent Form and Momentum
Regarding recent form, Liverpool are very much in the ascendancy. The past weekend saw them topple Norwich in the FA Cup 4th round, as a 5-2 win allowed the reds to progress into the next round of the historic tournament.
The midweek prior was equally pleasing, as despite the tired legs of Jürgen Klopp’s men, they were able to secure passage into the EFL Cup final (against Chelsea), after a 1-1 draw (away to Fulham) proved enough to record a 3-2 aggregate win.
The weekend prior was the best away performance of the reds season, as a trip to the south coast ended with Liverpool beating Bournemouth by an impressive 0-4 scoreline. After 21-games played, Liverpool has a superb 48-points tally as they sit top of the Premier League, five points clear of Manchester City.
Liverpool’s Predicted Lineup:
Below is my prediction on the starting eleven for the home side, where the hybrid initiative may see Trent Alexander resume his new role.
Alisson Becker, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Ibrahima Konate, Virgil Van Dijk (C), Joe Gomez, Dominik Szoboszlai, Alexis Mac Allister, Curtis Jones, Luis Diaz, Diogo Jota, Darwin Nunez
Match Analysis and Prediction
I believe the noise and emotion that has engulfed Anfield will fire the reds to a win. With so many key assets returning and form flooding through the squad, the firepower and quality will prove too much against Chelsea.
The blues must be patient and diligent in their work and hope for opportunities to arrive in transition. Cole Palmer is the player that offers most hope, whereas Raheem Sterling will be keen to help his former side in the title race, Manchester City.
Key Player Focus and Final Score Projection
Player to watch – Trent Alexander Arnold
Score Prediction- Liverpool 3 – 1 Chelsea