The Jürgen Klopp era finally brought a victory in midweek over low-ranking Premier League opponents, but the Capital One Cup was stage for such a much-needed triumph. Neither defeat nor victory has been experienced in the Premier League in Klopp's short tenure so far, but three points at Stamford Bridge would be a delightful way to register a first league victory.
Chelsea may be struggling, but Liverpool have not beaten the West London side in any competition for over three years. Whatever problems José Mourinho is experiencing, Saturday's opponents are reigning Premier League champions and have been one of Europe's biggest teams for some time—victory would be gratefully received by Liverpool fans across the globe.
The loveable Kolo Touré is out for up to a month with a hamstring strain and joins Jon Flanagan, Jordan Henderson, Joe Gomez, Danny Ings, Jordan Rossiter, and Daniel Sturridge on quite a lengthy injury list. At least Christian Benteke should be available for the trip to London, but it's uncertain as to whether he'll be entrusted to lead the attack from the start. That may be risky considering how thin Liverpool's striking options are at the moment, but is Origi likely to trouble Chelsea's unconvincing defence?
Predicted Liverpool Lineup (4-3-2-1):
Clyne/ Škrtel/ Sakho/ Moreno
Coutinho / Lucas / Can
Firmino / Lallana
Jürgen Klopp could drop James Milner to keep Roberto Firmino—who was excellent against Bournemouth—in the starting eleven. It's inconceivable to think that Firmino won't start, but will Philippe Coutinho or the club vice-captain make way? Both Coutinho and Milner are struggling with form, and pushing Coutinho deeper in midfield could help the Brazilian focus more on aspects of his game that will benefit his form, international prospects, and Liverpool. His incisive passing, close control, adroitness in tight spaces, surprising tenacity when stationed deeper, and ability could provide the much needed craft from midfield.
The defensive nous and experience of Lucas Leiva and lung-bursting enthusiasm of Emre Can should return to the starting line-up in midfield. Adam Lallana clearly has a place under Klopp and should return to support whoever starts up top. The shaky Dejan Lovren (nothing more than crude necessity) and promising João Carlos Teixeira (yes please) should keep their places in the matchday squad.
Chelsea will be without injured duo Thibaut Courtois and Branislav Ivanović, while Diego Costa (ribs) and Pedro (knock) are doubts. Nemanja Matić missed the penalty shoot-out defeat to Stoke City through suspension but could return straight to the starting line-up. Jon Obi Mikel and Ruben Loftus-Cheek are options for Mourinho if the under-pressure manager decides on an alternative plan for his midfield. The home side are expected to continue with a 4-2-3-1 formation that has been used in each game this season and the entirety of the title winning campaign of 2014/15.
Since successive wins against Maccabi Haifa (16 September) and Arsenal (19 September), Chelsea have only managed to beat Walsall in the Capital One Cup and a side managed by Tim Sherwood in eight games. Four defeats and two draws during that eight-game run have followed on from damaging reverses against Manchester City, Crystal Palace, and Everton respectively. The rumours surrounding José Mourinho intensify further with each poor performance and defeat, and a squad that confidently won the Premier League last season offers little in the way of excuses. The additions of Falcao, Pedro, Baba Rahman, and the well-known Papy Djilobodji may not be what Mourinho wanted, but does not explain sitting in 15th spot after ten league games.
Liverpool have lost only two games all season across three competitions but have drawn a staggering eight times, if one includes the 1-1 scoreline after 90 minutes against Carlisle United then the total rises to nine. The performances before Klopp arrived needed work, and while some promising signs have lightly peppered the four games since the 48-year-old took charge, there is much to be done. Would anyone bet against another 1-1 draw?
Kickoff is set for 12:45PM GMT/8:45AM EST tomorrow, with coverage from LFCTV GO online for subscribers across the globe and NBC Sports Live Extra in the US. We'll be keeping you updated with all the buildup to the game, including team news as it's released, our live matchday thread and post-match recaps from The Liverpool Offside staff. If you want to join the discussion, sign up for an SB Nation account to have your say on all the action as it happens.