Liverpool VS Chelsea
| Wednesday, September 26th |
League Cup | Anfield
7:45 PM BST / 2:45 PM EST
We arrive at the midpoint of Liverpool’s punishing September run, and the Reds remain perfect in all competitions, stringing together seven straight wins to open the season for the first time in club history. Wednesday’s clash with Chelsea will mark Jürgen Klopp’s first real chance to rest his key players, as, despite all quotes to the contrary, the Carabo Cup is undoubtedly the least important competition Liverpool compete in this season.
Furthermore, the Reds will travel to London on Saturday to repeat the fixture, only this time in the Premier League, where the Blues sit in third place, two points back of Liverpool. Maurizio Sarri’s men have started the season explosively, on the back of the Italian’s expansive attacking philosophy, as well as Eden Hazard’s considerable talents, but there is no guarantee the Belgian superstar will be strutting his stuff at Anfield on Wednesday night.
Under Sarri, Chelsea have looked like a continuation of the Italian’s Napoli team, playing an open 4-3-3, where Hazard and one of Willian and Pedro buzz around a central pivot manned by Olivier Giroud or Alvaro Morata. Jorginho sits at the base of midfield, feeding the forward line while surrounded by willing runners in N’Golo Kante and Mateo Kovacic.
With 14 goals from their opening five matches, Chelsea had looked a formidable attacking force, but they were held to a nil-nil draw by the previously sieve-like West Ham defense on Sunday, and Liverpool’s back line will undoubtedly represent their sternest test yet.
At the back — and despite shipping only four goals in six games — the Blues look far less assertive, and Arsenal carved them up at will every time they broke through the initial press when the two sides met at Stamford Bridge back in August. With Marcos Alonso not a defender, David Luiz aging and Antonio Rüdiger out injured, there will be opportunities for Liverpool’s attackers to test world-record goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga on Wednesday.
Projected Liverpool Lineup (4-3-3)
Mignolet; Clyne, Matip, Lovren, Moreno; Fabinho, Milner, Keïta; Shaqiri, Sturridge, Salah
While wholesale changes aren’t guaranteed, Liverpool now possess the depth to make significant alterations to their starting XI without much of a drop in quality, and the projected line-up is a representation of that more than an actual guess at who will get the nod.
Simon Mingolet has been confirmed as starting, Dejan Lovren is reportedly training normally and could be in line for a start, while caution over Virgil van Dijk’s rib injury could keep the defender out until the weekend, opening the door for Joël Matip. Alberto Moreno and Nathaniel Clyne are still alive and available, and are perfectly capable of spelling their fullback counterparts.
In midfield, Fabinho should be in line for his full debut, while Xherdan Shaqiri could make it two in a row following his industrious start against Southampton. Meanwhile, Naby Keïta has just been chilling on the bench recently and will be raring to put his abilities on display.
Up top, Daniel Sturridge could allow Roberto Firmino a rest, and the fomer Chelsea man’s will be looking to reignite his burgeoning partnership with Shaqiri from pre-season. Dominic Solanke and Divock Origi are both available, but neither player has even made the bench for the first team this year, and it is likely only one of Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah will be rested.
What the Managers Had to Say
Jürgen Klopp: “We will have a good team and I really want to see us playing good football. It will not be nil changes and it for sure won’t be eleven.”
Referee: Kevin Friend
Assistants: Adrian Holmes, Mark Scholes
Fourth official: Michael Oliver
VAR: Graham Scott, Adam Nunn
Kickoff is set for 7:45 PM BST/2:45 PM EST tomorrow, and television listings for the match can be found on LiveSoccerTV.
In the meantime, and as always, 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 the action as it happens.