CHELSEA VS. LIVERPOOL
| Sunday, January 2nd|
Premier League | Stamford Bridge
4:30PM GMT/11:30AM EST
Jürgen Klopp and (so far) three unnamed Liverpool players and three unnamed Liverpool staff members have suspected positive Covid test results and will miss out when the Reds’ visit Stamford Bridge on Sunday. Assistant manager Pep Lijnders will take the reins in his stead.
Coming off several disappointing performances for Liverpool, this news couldn’t have come at a more inopportune time for the team. This match is also the last one for Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mané, and Naby Keita before they are released to represent their countries at AFCoN.
As for Thomas Tuchel’s men, they are dealing with a bit of a winter crisis of their own as they look to bounce back from their own poor results and the sting of bad blood between Tuchel and Romelu Lukaku. They’ve drawn three of their last four Premier League games, dropping six points and falling behind leaders Manchester City.
While Lukaku is available, it will be interested to see if Tuchel picks him or if he starts on the bench after his recent interview criticizing the manager.
The Reds are one point behind the Blues in third place, but with a game in hand. If either team wants to push on challenge City for the title in the second half of the season, they have to start building up victories now.
Predicted Liverpool Lineup (4-3-3)
Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Matip, Van Dijk, Robertson; Henderson, Fabinho, Thiago; Salah, Firmino, Mané
Let’s start with what we know for sure: Andy Robertson is still suspended after his red card against Spurs, so he will be ineligible to play. Additionally, Thiago Alcantara, Takumi Minamino, Harvey Elliott, Nat Phillips, Divock Origi, and Adrian are all out injured.
Additionally, there are the game day surprise players who right now are suspected to have Covid but are as yet unnamed. So that brings a little spice to the whole prediction process for sure.
For Chelsea, Timo Werner is still in quarantine for Covid, while Reece James, Andreas Christensen, and Ben Chilwell are all confirmed out through injury. Facing late fitness tests are Thiago Silva and Ruben Loftus-Cheek.
What the Managers Had to Say
Jurgen Klopp: “I expect a really strong Chelsea side because, with all the struggles they have obviously injury-wise and COVID-wise which I don’t know exactly about, they still have obviously a proper football team.”
Thomas Tuchel: “We will push to the maximum to beat Liverpool. The day after Liverpool no matter if we make it or not, the situation will catch us again because we are in this situation and that’s why we struggle and this will not go away by one win. But we will fight for the win of course.”
Referee: Anthony Taylor. Assistants: Gary Beswick, Adam Nunn. Fourth official: Martin Atkinson. VAR: Paul Tierney. Assistant VAR: Constantine Hatzidakis.
Kickoff is set for 4:30PM GMT/11:30AM EST tomorrow. In the meantime, The Liverpool Offside team will keep you updated with all of the team news and match buildup as it becomes available, along with providing a matchday liveblog and post-match recaps and reaction. If you want to join the discussion, sign up for an SB Nation account and have your say on the action as it happens.