Chelsea’s trip to Anfield to face Liverpool this evening is a mouth watering clash between two of the expected Premier League title contenders for Manchester City’s crown come May.
There was a lot of discussion ahead of this game on what lineup Thomas Tuchel would opt for against Jurgen Klopp’s Reds.
Would Timo Werner be unleashed against Liverpool’s high line? Would Ben Chilwell make his first appearance of the season? Would UEFA’s midfielder of the year N’Golo Kante return alongside Jorginho?
Only one of those questions has a yes, with Kante back into Chelsea’s midfield for such a major test. Mateo Kovacic has had a good start to the campaign, but for a game with such intensity it is crucial Kante is involved.
Liverpool will look to pounce on mistakes in central areas as their midfield aims to feed the dangerous front three. Kante’s brilliant anticipation, mobility and intercepting are a trademark of any big Blues display.
Ben Chilwell not featuring is a surprise and will create intrigue for his involvement moving forward. Marcos Alonso has admittedly had a good start to the season and can always be a threat for Chelsea in the final third. But with the speed and quality of Mohamed Salah coming from Liverpool’s right side of attack, not having Chilwell’s speed and defensive quality is another area that could be exploited by Klopp’s men.
Reece James will hope to build on his brilliant performance against Arsenal and continue a promising connection with Romelu Lukaku.
Stopping Chelsea’s adventurous wing-backs is a big question posed to every team who faces Tuchel’s European Champions, and that width from James will hopefully provide Chelsea with chances to create overloads and crossing opportunities to feed Lukaku.
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Lukaku’s physical battle with Virgil van Dijk will be a big talking point. For Chelsea, the hope will be the Belgian’s mere presence can occupy Liverpool’s best defender enough to create space for Mason Mount and Kai Havertz to exploit.
Although it is far too early in the season to make any drastic conclusions from tonight’s result, neither Thomas Tuchel nor Jurgen Klopp will want to lose ground heading into the season’s first international break. Chelsea should have confidence ahead of kick-off on Merseyside as the Blues won 1-0 in this same fixture back in March thanks to a Mason Mount goal.
Chelsea Team: (3-4-3) Mendy, Azpilicueta, Christensen, Rudiger, James, Kante, Jorginho, Alonso, Mount, Lukaku, Havertz
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