A Blue Up North previews Chelsea’s Premier League clash at home to Liverpool.
This Saturday, Chelsea return to Premier League action as they host an all too familiar foe at Stamford Bridge. After a memorable League Cup win away to Liverpool on Wednesday evening, the same opponents bring their, so far, perfect league record to face Maurizio Sarri’s side.
Saturday’s contest may be between the same football clubs as on Wednesday, but it will be between 2 very different looking actual teams. Both managers did make 8 changes for the midweek cup tie and we can expect similar amounts of player rotation as both sides return to full strength.
Kepa Arrizabalaga, Marcos Alonso, and Olivier Giroud will all return after being rested for the cup match, while David Luiz, Jorginho, N’Golo Kante and Eden Hazard are all likely to be selected after being named as substitutes on Wednesday.
With Cesar Azpilicueta keeping his place that leaves 3 decisions for the manager to ponder. Antonio Rudiger and Pedro were not involved during the week due to niggling injuries. Gary Cahill should keep his place if the German is not ready to return. If Pedro is fit to play he may get the nod over Willian due to his better finishing abilities and fine form so far this season.
That just leaves the choice of Mateo Kovacic or Ross Barkley in midfield. The Englishman is more dangerous at going forward but The Croatian may be used to help control the midfield battle.
The visitors are likely to still be missing Virgil van Dijk, while Adam Lallana is definitely unavailable. However youngster Trent Alexander-Arnold has recovered and is expected to start. Shaqiri started The Reds’ Premier League win over Southampton last weekend in support of their front 3, but his place is likely to be given to either James Milner or Naby Keita as the visitors go with a more combative midfield.
The one thing guaranteed though is that this will be an intense battle between 2 of the best sides in the country. Chelsea may have won on Wednesday, but it is their Premier League clash that was always the main focus.
Both managers stated the result midweek will have no bearing on Saturday’s match. True in that Liverpool will approach this match with a positive mind set and will be focused on keeping their 100% win record in the league. So far they have started their matches on the front foot, having scored a league high of 10 first half goals and have yet to concede in any first half. However, no one has scored as many goals as Chelsea’s 7 goals in the last 15 minutes of their league matches.
However, The Blues will definitely have a psychological edge following their victory on Wednesday. Most clubs who concede first against a team as strong as Liverpool will naturally start to drop their heads and lose belief that they can not gain a draw, never mind dream to still win the match. But the strength in character individuality and as a team to win from a losing position flows throughout the Chelsea squad.
Liverpool will arrive hoping their front 3 can make the most of their pace and movement, especially if Rudiger is missing. However, Chelsea’s passing and possession based style will eventually overpower even the likes of Liverpool. The match will be decided by who can make the most of their spells of supremacy during the 90 minutes.
Whichever style wins on the day, we are sure to witness a clash of 2 English titans. I, for one, cannot wait .
Written by Jon Ellis, home and away season ticket holder. Follow him on Twitter @ClitheroeBlue