Liverpool vs Chelsea
| Thursday, March 4th |
Premier League | Anfield
8:15PM BST /3:15PM EST
As will be the case for much of the remainder of the year, it’s a season-defining week for the Reds, starting with a chance to overtake Chelsea and take a big step closer to Champions League qualification.
Much has changed for both sides since Liverpool comfortably outplayed the Blues at Stamford Bridge back in September, but given their recent managerial change, it’s inarguable Chelsea have had more upheaval.
Thomas Tuchel has replaced fan-favourite Frank Lampard, bringing with him an expansive, possession-based playing style that has seen his new club win five and draw three since his appointment, conceding only two Premier League goals in the process. It hasn’t necessarily been exhilarating to watch, but points have been earned, and given Liverpool’s recent form troubles, the Blues have bypassed tomorrow’s opponents in the table.
Tuchel will miss his captain Thiago Silva, but can otherwise field a full and healthy squad tomorrow, with concerns about a packed fixture list the only reason to consider resting any of this stars.
Projected Liverpool Lineup (4-3-3)
Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Kabak, Phillips, Robertson; Thiago, Wijnaldum, Jones; Mané, Firmino, Salah
Liverpool are in the process of becoming healthy themselves, welcoming Fabinho and Diogo Jota back to training this week, although match participation comes too soon for the latter.
This means we could risk a 19th centre-back partnership tomorrow night, should Fabinho be reintroduced alongside Ozan Kabak, pushing Nat Phillips out of the starting XI. Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andrew Robertson are non-negotiable starters every week, with the former beginning to find something resembling his form of recent seasons.
In midfield, there is an abundance of options, as Naby Keïta returned to action at the weekend and Curtis Jones continues to prove himself more than worthy of his spot in the team. The 20-year old scored the opener in another impressive performance on Sunday, and it would be a surprise at this point if he’s not starting next to Georginio Wijnaldum and Thiago tomorrow.
Up top, both Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino got the goals they deserved against Sheffield United — although the latter had his taken away by the aptly named Dubious Goals Panel — and Sadio Mané will hope to end his own dry spell, having scored only a single goal in his last nine Premier League outings.
What the Managers Said
Jürgen Klopp: “You have to be patient in moments, you have to be lively in other moments. You have to be creative in moments and you have to show your desire for defending in all the moments because this is a top team and they will ask for a lot, and we should try to make sure that we have all the answers. ”
Thomas Tuchel: “This is the challenge, this is the benchmark in terms of league wise and of course in Liverpool at Anfield, we are absolutely aware of this that we step into the biggest challenge.”
Referee: Craig Pawson
Assistant referees: Stuart Burt, Simon Bennett
Fourth official: Anthony Taylor
VAR: Paul Tierney, Constantine Hatzidakis
Kickoff is set for 8:15PM GMT/3:15PM 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.