After utter capitulation in the Champions League in midweek, finishing level with Sevilla on three goals a piece, the Reds are back in Premier League action this weekend as Chelsea visit Anfield in one of the more important games in recent Liverpool history. Antonio Conte will bring his Chelsea side to Merseyside off the back of a 6-0 win over Quarabag in mid-week but lack of preparation time for their clash with the Reds has left the Italian flustered and visibly frustrating. Matchday 13? Into these, Reds.
After suffering with Dejan Lovren in the heart of defence for a full 180 minutes of footballing action but thankfully after yet another injury set-back, Joel Matip has once again returned to full training and will be back in the squad for the visit of the Blues. Elsewhere, we could finally get the long-awaited return of Adam Lallana to the first team picture, after being included in the 23-man squad for the Sevilla game, yet not even making the bench. Obviously Jurgen Klopp’s cautiousness is understandable, but surely he must see how important he is to the way the squad plays. Other than that, there’s no other fresh injury concerns. Clyne remains out.
There’s only really two players missing for Chelsea come this weekend’s fixture, that being former Liverpool loanee, Victor Moses and Twitter-famous Michy Batshuayi. Alvaro Morata, Tiemoue Bakayoko, Andreas Christensen and Gary Cahill were all rested midweek for the Champions League victory over Quarabag, but they should return to the fray with no issues.
Now, this is tough, not only because we have players returning from injury but also because after a complete and utter 15-minute meltdown in midweek, being responsible for Sevilla’s first and the penalty that was their second, lots of people have called for Alberto Moreno to be hooked from the starting lineup in order to let Andy Robertson or James Milner step into the fold. However, the connotations of this may prove difficult for Liverpool to manage, with Coutinho seemingly more willing to play his brand of football alongside Moreno, and what dropping him would do to his confidence, is it really a smart choice to drop him? My answer: No. Not yet, anyway. If he reverts back to his old self, he may need to be axed eventually but Liverpool fans have such a short term memory, remember him putting in ten good shifts at left-back then all his hard work undone in quarter of an hour? How is that fair?
Other than that, I expect Joel Matip to come back into the XI straight away, but unfortunately, I can’t see Lallana being put on the field from the off. I think the English midfielder will be restricted to half hour coming off the bench. Other than that, the team picks itself with the only other change from midweek being Mignolet rightly replacing Karius.
Liverpool: Simon Mignolet, Joe Gomez, Joel Matip, Dejan Lovren, Alberto Moreno, Jordan Henderson, Emre Can, Philippe Coutinho, Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino
Chelsea: Thibaut Courtois, Cezar Azpilicueta, Andres Christensen, Gary Cahill, Davide Zappacosta, Cesc Fabregas, N’golo Kante, Tiemoue Bakayoko, Marcos Alonso, Eden Hazard, Alvaro Morata
Liverpool: Adam Lallana
We have sorely, sorely missed the presence of Adam Lallana in our midfield and if he does indeed return to the game at any point, I think he will instantly become the most important player on our side of the ball, especially against a team like Chelsea that like to pass the ball around the middle of the park, the way Lallana instigates pressing actions is completely invaluable to the side and is incredibly important. Truth be told, I just want the guy back.
Chelsea: Davide Zappacosta
Based on what I have already said about Alberto Moreno here, Davide Zappacosta, the player that will be up against our Spaniard makes the grade as key player for the Blues this Saturday. If Davide can get the better of Moreno (and we know how catastrophic that can be) then Chelsea will be in good stead to at least score a couple goals against the Reds, and to be honest I don’t think we can even fathom keeping a clean sheet on Saturday.
This game is going to be stressful for us, it’s going to be one of the toughest games on the calendar as Chelsea may well set up to defend yet again when they come to Anfield and it will be extremely frustrating if they do so. Liverpool are going to have to rely on Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane to get in behind the masses of Chelsea defenders and hopefully our passing can be something better than the shit-show it was on Tuesday. I’m going to go for a 2-2 draw. I can’t see us scoring four and I can’t see us not conceding so I think 2-2 is a fair prediction, I hope I’m wrong and I hope we win. Up the Reds.