LIVERPOOL VS CHELSEA LIVE DETAILS PREVIEW: TEAM NEWS, LINEUPS, PREDICTION & KEY STATS
In Matchweek 3, Liverpool will visit Chelsea at Anfield, pitting two Premier League title contenders against each other.
Before the first international break, the final matchday of the 2021/22 Premier League season has thrown us some fascinating fixtures. On Saturday, reigning champions Manchester City will face struggling giants Arsenal in the first round, before a heavyweight fight between Liverpool and Chelsea takes place at Anfield.
Liverpool has made a wonderful start to the new season following a difficult season last time out, winning both games against Norwich City and Burnley, scoring five unanswered goals in both meetings. And manager Jurgen Klopp will be seeking to maintain that momentum against one of their primary championship contenders, in order to end the international break on a good note.
Chelsea has had a fantastic start to the 2021/22 season, winning the UEFA Super Cup before holding off Crystal Palace and Arsenal in their first two Premier League matches. They, like Liverpool, have scored five goals in two games without conceding a single goal. And Thomas Tuchel will be looking to guide his club to yet another victory in order to solidify their title credentials.
Last season's match, which took place in March of this year, concluded in a 1-0 Chelsea victory thanks to Mason Mount's first-half goal. And, before Saturday's big matchup, The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at both squads.
Liverpool's Team News
With veteran midfielder James Milner out due to injury, Liverpool just has one player unavailable for selection. After missing the game against Burnley due to the death of his father, Fabinho has returned to training and is expected to start against Chelsea. Andrew Robertson is also completely healthy and ready to play, providing a double boost to the Reds.
Given the team's performance in the first two games, Jurgen Klopp is unlikely to make any changes to the starting lineup. Robertson, on the other hand, should return to the starting lineup at left-back, replacing Kostas Tsimikas, while Trent Alexander-Arnold, Joel Matip, and Virgil van Dijk will continue to protect Alisson Becker in goal.
The clash between Chelsea's attack-minded wingers, Reece James and Marcos Alonso, and Robertson and Alexander-Arnold, will be a tense one that might decide the game. With Fabinho back in the fold, Liverpool should be able to move Jordan Henderson to the right-hand side of central midfield, while Naby Keita should be kept after a promising start to the season.
In the attacking third, Diogo Jota should replace Roberto Firmino in the false nine positions, surrounded by the dynamic combo of Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane, both of whom have shown early season promise.
Kurt Zouma has been ruled out of the match as he closes in on a move to West Ham United. Aside from him, Christian Pulisic is out with coronavirus, while Ruben Loftus-Cheek is a significant doubt for the reigning European champions' visit to Anfield.
Tuchel's 3-4-2-1 configuration has worked wonderfully for Chelsea in recent months, and the German tactician is unlikely to change it against Liverpool. Edouard Mendy will be looking for his third Premier League clean sheet of the season after being awarded UEFA Champions League Goalkeeper of the Season.
Trevoh Chalobah had a fantastic start to the season, but he was left out of the Arsenal match. Tuchel prefers his experienced defenders Cesar Azpilicueta, Andreas Christensen, and Antonio Rudiger, with the latter two in line for new contracts, so the academy product could find himself on the bench once more.
In terms of the wing-back positions, Reece James on the right is untouchable following his fantastic performance against Arsenal, while Marcos Alonso's early-season showing justifies his inclusion over Ben Chilwell. N'Golo Kante, who came off the bench in the previous match, is expected to start with Jorginho, who was crowned UEFA Best Player of the Year earlier this week.
Finally, in attack, the three of Kai Havertz, Mason Mount, and club-record signing Romelu Lukaku demonstrated excellent understanding and chemistry in the win over Arsenal and is likely to be retained, though Hakim Ziyech is also a strong possibility to start following his injury recovery. The Blues will have Timo Werner on the bench as a backup option.
Prediction: Liverpool to draw 1-1 with Chelsea.
This has all the makings of a tight-knit, high-octane clash between two of the Premier League's best teams. As previously stated, Liverpool has had their shooting boots on from the start of the season, but this Chelsea squad is tough to break down and rarely enables opponents to create openings.
While Chelsea beat Liverpool in the same fixture last season, it's worth noting that the Blues were defended by Fabinho and Ozan Kabak. They appear to be a lot more formidable side now that Virgil van Dijk has returned, and even if Romelu Lukaku does get some minutes on the evening, it is unlikely that the Reds' goal will be broken more than once. This one will end in a hard-fought 1-1 draw, according to the Hard Tackle.