Liverpool will return to Anfield on Saturday following their disappointing demise in Sevilla during midweek. They will face a tough Chelsea side, who sit two places ahead of the Reds in league and are coming off the back of a comfortable 4-0 win over Qarabag on Tuesday. Both teams will be itching for a win as only four points separate second from seventh. Also, with Manchester City winning their last ten games, neither side can afford to drop too many more points, if they are to keep their slim title chances alive.
Liverpool Team News
Joel Matip is still a doubt for this fixture as he struggles to return from a thigh injury that has kept him out of the last two games. Dejan Lovren and Ragnar Klavan will likely start together and will need to show more confidence from corners than they did on Tuesday night, if the team are going to have any chance of coming away with the three points. Alberto Moreno’s shocking display against Sevilla gave everyone flashbacks to the Europa League final two years ago. He was just a shadow of the player that we have seen so far this season and Jurgen Klopp will likely stick by him after this blip. Andrew Robertson will be ready to step in if necessary despite not even being on the bench since the Huddersfield game at the end of October. Joe Gomez has established himself in the right-back position and looks to continue to start until Nathaniel Clyne returns. Simon Mignolet will be hoping to continue his run of keeping seven clean sheets in the eight home league games this season.
Liverpool fans were angry at Jordan Henderson’s performance on Tuesday and criticized him for not covering himself in glory as captain. The failure to close out the game was blamed primarily on the Englishman and Moreno, so a big display from these two players is needed tomorrow to win back the supporters. Adam Lallana probably won’t be used tomorrow as it’s too big of a game to bring him back after his injury. However, it is good to see him back training with the squad and being around the team on matchdays. The rotation policy with midfielders should see Emre Can come in for Georginio Wijnaldum, and Philippe Coutinho will complete the midfield three.
Mohamed Salah scored two against Southampton last week but was largely missing during the Champions League fixture. The league’s top scorer will be hoping to bounce back strongly here and add at least one more to his tally. Roberto Firmino bagged a brace against Sevilla which should give him the confidence to play well here and add to his mediocre three goals in the league this season. Finally, Sadio Mane hasn’t been at the top of his game since returning from injury. He hasn’t been able to get a run of form going in the league as suspension and fitness troubles have not allowed him to get a consistent group of appearances together. Liverpool will need their star players to turn up tomorrow if they stand any chance against this strong Chelsea outfit.
Predicted Lineup: Mignolet; Moreno, Lovren, Klavan, Gomez; Couhtinho, Henderson, Can; Salah, Firmino, Mane.
Chelsea Team News
Chelsea travelled considerably further than their opponents in midweek as they went away to Azerbaijan to face Qarabag. Key players, Alvaro Morata, Tiemoue Bakayoko and Gary Cahill were all rested and should be ready to start tomorrow. Andreas Christiensen was also not in the starting XI and is expected to get the nod ahead of David Luiz.
With Liverpool’s attacking prowess, Chelsea will likely line up in a 5-3-1-1 formation that they have been adopting in recent weeks. Playing with three centre-backs, as well as two wing backs, should give Chelsea the numbers and pace to deal with Salah and Mane coming forward. The Reds have scored 10 goals in their last three EPL games, so Thibaut Courtois and his defenders will have their work cut out. Eden Hazard will slot in just behind Morata as the lone attacking midfielder. The visitors are close to reporting a clean bill of health with only Michy Batshuayi and former Liverpool player, Victor Moses unable to take to the field tomorrow.
Predicted Lineup: Courtois; Alonso, Cahill, Christensen, Azpilicueta, Zappacosta; Bakayoko, Kante, Fabregas; Hazard; Morata.
It’s quite a difficult one to call tomorrow as Liverpool will have a point to prove after their midweek collapse. Chelsea will also be suffering from some tiredness after their midweek escapades but should have the quality to deal with it. The last two games at Anfield between these two teams have ended 1-1 and I can’t look past this score line for a third time.