Match Preview: Liverpool vs. Chelsea

Just days after a convincing 3-0 victory over Southampton, Liverpool welcomes Chelsea to Anfield for a third-round fixture in the League Cup. The Anfield Talk’s Logan (@kidddlogan) previews the midweek matchup.

 

Who: Liverpool v. Chelsea

 

When: Wednesday, 26 September

 

Where: Anfield, Liverpool

 

Time: 7:45 GMT, 2:45 EST

 

TV: Sky Sports Football & Sky Sports Main Event (UK), ESPN + (US)

The 3-0 win over Southampton at the weekend was the perfect game for Jurgen Klopp and his men. Xherdan Shaqiri finally got his full debut in a red shirt, Mo Salah got off the mark once again finally netting a goal, and Joel Matip possibly showed his worthiness at the club as being a viable second choice centre-back.

Alisson had very little to do in goal, but he looked rather comfortable when the ball was played back to him on several occasions. It is nice to see that he has gotten over the mishap that occurred at Leicester. He will need to be outstanding in both matches against Chelsea this week if Liverpool want to continue the unbeaten run.

The fullbacks, Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andy Robertson have been out of this world thus far. The way they release up the pitch to join in on the attacks to play one-two balls with the forwards and to free up the space has been exquisite. The service from Trent has gotten progressively better and has almost reached his level from the end of last season. Andy Robbo has definitely made his case as a world class left-back and we are only seven games in. If either of them feature against Chelsea on Wednesday, they will have their hands full with the Chelsea attack, but I expect them to be perfectly fine as they had Neymar and Kylian Mbappe in their back pockets.

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Matip and Virgil van Dijk were tested several times by the counter-attack of Southampton, but were never troubled by their attempts. Matip rose above the Saints defence on a corner and netted his first goal of the season which saw the Reds take total control of the game. He really proved his ability Saturday and could become a crucial part of this team down the stretch as fitness may become an issue. Van Dijk was in control the entire game until he was subbed off for a bruised rib. He should be fit enough for the clash on Saturday, but it’s nice to know that it’s nothing too serious.

Joe Gomez came on for van Dijk and continued his fine form. He really has matured nicely being partnered with the Dutch international at the back. Whichever pairing at the back that Klopp decides to go with, they will have to be aware of the number of options that Chelsea have in the. Whether it’s coming from the outside or down the middle, there is always the constant threat of attack from this team and their heads will need to be on a swivel for the entire 90 minutes.

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The transformed midfield on Saturday was a great taste of what we, Liverpool fans, should expect during rotation. A formation change to a 4-2-3-1 was crucial in getting Shaqiri involved in the attack.

The two holding midfielders, Gini Wijnaldum and Jordan Henderson, were impeccable once again. Gini has definitely proved his worth in that number six role and will continue to be a staple to the Liverpool midfield. Henderson has been proving all of his haters wrong and it is truly a beautiful sight. The awareness on the pitch to press when needed and the relentless work rate to win the ball back has been absolutely outstanding from the club captain.

Shaqiri could not have dreamed for a better full debut. His shot that led to the Saints own goal, that ridiculous free kick that led to Mo’s goal, and the ability to start the attack with only a yard of space was really needed against a side like Southampton. It is very likely that Gini and Henderson will not feature on Wednesday, but Shaqiri most likely will. Whoever is put into the midfield will have to keep Chelsea and their pressure under control. If the Reds want any success against the Blues, it will all start in the midfield.

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Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino out wide in the midfield was a brilliant move by Klopp. It allowed for them to have even more influence in the defensive half. They were able to pick up the ball even deeper than they already did in the advanced roles and it allowed for even more threatening counter attacks. Maneplayed like his typical self. He was great in his movement off of the ball and provided some great looks for Bobby and Mo. Bobby was superb yet again. His ability to win the ball back and to start the counters from out wide actually worked quite well and could be something that we see more frequently this season. It is almost a certainty that either one of these two will not play Wednesday.

Mo played his match in the recent weeks on Saturday. He was constantly involved with almost what seemed like every scoring opportunity. His movement was brilliant and his finishing is starting to gradually get up to par with last season. It is almost a given that Mo will not feature on Wednesday, but I would not put it past Klopp to feature the Egyptian.

Liverpool Team News
Klopp said in his pre-match press conference that Simon Mignolet will be handed his first start of the season on Wednesday. Klopp will be giving Alisson his first rest of the season thus far.

Van Dijk will be handed a well deserved rest on Wednesday to get him fully fit from the bruised rib sustained against PSG.

Fabinho has been tipped to get his first full debut in a Liverpool shirt. Although I hate the fact that a man with world class quality could be handed his full debut in an EFL Cup game, it will be beneficial for Fabinho to get some game time.

Shaqiri and Daniel Sturridge will come into the team to give some of the attack a very well deserved rest.

Maurizio Sarri’s men traveled across London on Sunday and battled West Ham to a draw. That certain X- factor that Chelsea has had all season was missing on Sunday. The final ball was just off and it translated to the quite simple shots on target.

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Chelsea’s defence has been tested only a couple of times this season. They have faced some rather poor sides to this point and this matchup on Wednesday could be a real test for them. They were definitely let off of the hook by poor finishing against West Ham’s Andriy Yarmolenko as he missed an absolute sitter right in front of goal. Antonio Rudiger was forced to go off early Sunday because of an injury. His status is unknown at this time and could be a very big boost for Liverpool heading into Wednesday and this weekend.

Chelsea’s midfield is definitely one of the best trios in the Premier League. Jorginho, N’golo Kante and Kovacic have absolutely taken the league by storm. They have single handedly taken over games this season. Jorginho’ s passing ability and his tempo control is absolutely world class. Kante and his transfer from a holding midfielder to a box-to-box midfielder was a brilliant move by Sarri. His ability to get up and down the pitch and to win the ball back has been excellent. Since his arrival at the Bridge, Kovacic has left his certainly left his mark. He has slipped in very nicely. It is a certain that this trio will not feature together on Wednesday, but do not be surprised if two of them feature.

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The front three of Chelsea’s attack was definitely out of sync Sunday. Eden Hazard was below par on Sunday. Darrin has brought out the best in Hazard and he could be a force in the league this year. Olivier Giroud was pretty much absent on Sunday. He wasn’t able to link up with the other forwards like he usually does. Willian was the extent of the threat on Sunday. His attacking run were promising, but he could not provide that final touch. It is going to be interesting to see if any of the three will feature on Wednesday. Sarri could surprise us all and feature of a couple his best forwards on Wednesday.

Chelsea Team News
Expect Willy Caballero to get the start in goal on Wednesday.

Antonio Rudiger is rumoured to not be available for the clash on Wednesday and is a doubt for Saturday.

Previous Meeting
The last time that Liverpool faced off against Chelsea was back in the first weekend of May at Stamford Bridge. Liverpool came out on the wrong end of the result because of an Olivier Giroud header.

Prediction
I think that Liverpool will be able to get past the Blues and win 2-0.

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