Chelsea vs Liverpool: Preview and Prediction
Two of the biggest clubs in the Premier League, both struggling to find their form this season Chelsea gear up to host Liverpool at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday with both Jurgen Klopp and Graham Potter looking to avoid the free-fall of their respective clubs in the league standings.
In their most recent outings, both clubs endured demoralising defeats, the Blues were beaten 2-0 by Aston Villa on Sunday whereas a couple of hours later the Red were put to the sword by Manchester City who prevailed 4-1.
Judging by the Blues’ recent results, the international break put the breaks on whatever momentum they had tried to build and just as pressure was looking to ease on Potter’s shoulders, the sword is hanging over the ex-Brighton man’s head once again.
With their most recent defeat, Chelsea fell to 11th place in the league standings, which is unacceptable not just by the club’s lofty standards but more after the massive influx of cash that they spent under new owner Todd Boehly.
Talking about the Merseyside club, the Reds have found it tough on the road, Sunday’s defeat was their 8th on the travel, painting a grim picture for Klopp’s side. They were nowhere near the title race and failed to match City and Arsenal’s pace but getting European football next season might be difficult if they continue to slump further.
After their Champions League exit the only route back into the big boys is to finish in the top four, and currently, the Reds are seven points behind Tottenham Hotspur albeit having a game in hand.
With just two wins in their past five league games, the Anfield-based club are some way away from their best and have lost two in a row, sandwiched between the round of 16 second-leg defeat to Real Madrid which makes it three losses. Moreover, with matches against Arsenal, West Ham and Spurs in upcoming weeks, the remaining 11 matches could define the Reds’ fate.
Potter’s side has also won just twice in their last five, they were held to a 2-2 draw by a spirited Everton side before the international break. With no wins in the whole of February, March brought some daylight with the Blues securing wins over Leeds United and Borussia Dortmund to keep their Champions League hopes alive.
With games against Real Madrid, Arsenal, and Manchester City in the upcoming weeks, the Stamford Bridge outfit needs to get their act together and fast or else they might even miss on Europa League football next term.
Talking about the past record of these two clubs, they have locked horns on a total of 181 occasions with the Reds prevailing 75 times, and the Blues claiming 56 wins across all competitions. 50 matches ended all squared between them and the reverse fixture earlier this season at Anfield in a 0-0 stalemate.
As far as Potter’s side is concerned, they are set to be without the services of Armando Broja (knee), Cesar Azpilicueta (head) or Thiago Silva (knee). Edouard Mendy (finger) and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (back) are also expected to miss the game as they are on the road to recovery. Raheem Sterling could feature albeit from the bench with the Englishman still recovering from a hamstring concern and the same can be said for Wesley Fofana.
On the other hand, Klopp’s side has already seen their squad reduced down to bare bones earlier this season, Calvin Ramsay (knee), Stefan Bajcetic (adductor), and Naby Keita will all miss the trip to London. Luis Diaz might feature from the bench, still recovering from knee surgery, and Thiago Alcantara (hip) is not likely to feature either.
For the Blues, Kepa Arrizabalaga will start in goal, with Benoit Badiashile, Kalidou Koulibaly, and Fofana in the back three alongside Reece James and Ben Chillwell deployed on the flanks. Enzo Fernandez and Mateo Kovacic are expected to start in the engine room, with Mason Mount and Kai Havertz set to partner Joao Felix in the attacking trio.
The reds will have the evergreen Alisson Becker in goal, with Trent-Alexander Arnold, Ibrahim Konate, Virgil van Dijk, and Andy Robertson ahead of him. Jordan Henderson and Fabinho are expected to start in the double pivot with Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino, and Diogo Jota likely to line up behind Darwin Nunez.
Predicted Starting XIs
Chelsea (3-4-3): Kepa Arrizabalaga; Benoit Badiashile, Kalidou Koulibaly, Wesley Fofana; Reece James, Enzo Fernandez, Mateo Kovacic; Ben Chillwell; Mason Mount, Kai Havertz, Joao Felix.
Liverpool (4-2-3-1): Alisson Becker; Trent-Alexander Arnold, Ibrahim Konate, Virgil van Dijk, Andy Robertson; Jordan Henderson, Fabinho; Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino, Diogo Jota; Darwin Nunez.
Given the recent troubles of both these clubs, it would be foolish to expect a goal fest, a close encounter could unfold and a draw seems like the most likely outcome.