LIVERPOOL VS. CHELSEA
| Saturday, January 21st |
Premier League | Anfield
12:30PM GMT/7:30AM EST
Chelsea come into this match in 10th with a goal difference of +1 — and who would’ve expected a January matchup between these two sides to be a meeting of 9th and 10th in the league.
Like Liverpool, Chelsea have struggled this season. They have a similar record to the Reds, but have played one more match (and lost one more). Though their last match was a 1-0 win against Crystal Palace, it was hard fought. Before this win they were on a run of four without one, losing to Fulham, Manchester City twice (in the FA Cup and in the league), and drawing to Nottingham Forest. Their last league win came against Bournemouth in the first game back after the World Cup break, and their previous league win was way back in October.
Though they progressed into the knockouts of the Champions League, they’ve been knocked out of both domestic cups. Suffice it to say, it’s been a hard season to watch for Chelsea fans, and new manager Graham Potter is under enormous pressure as things stand.
Chelsea are really the only team in a similar place, injury-wise, to Liverpool. Reece James and Ben Chilwell are both coming back, but will not be available this weekend. Ruben Loftus-Cheek should be fit enough to play some minutes. There is a chance that new signing Mykhaylo Mudrykis could play against Liverpool, having just arrived in London.
Both managers emphasized that the other’s struggles stem from injuries this season; both will want to use this match to re-start their ambitions this season.
Predicted Liverpool Lineup (4-3-3)
Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Matip, Konaté, Robertson; Bajčetić, Thiago, Keïta; Salah, Núñez, Gakpo
Liverpool, meanwhile, are only a hair better than Chelsea. The Reds have scored more this season (scoring 34 in the league to Chelsea’s 22), but both sides have had leaky defenses, with Liverpool letting in four more goals (25) than Chelsea (21). The Reds did manage to progress in the FA Cup last time out, passing Wolves in a narrow — but more commanding — replay win.
Watching Liverpool has been difficult this season as well, and it must be said that the much-changed line-up against Wolves midweek managed a lot of the basics (shape, press, decision-making, anticipation) better than more senior starting XIs have thus far this season.
Manager Jürgen Klopp has signaled that the performance might earn players time against Chelsea, though it remains to be determined just how many changes from the last league match will occur.
In terms of injuries, there has not been much movement. Darwin Núñez is back in contention to play, and we’e likely to see him.
What the Managers Had to Say
Jurgen Klopp: “We need consistency in a good way. We have to defend at a high level which we haven’t done often enough, and based on that we can create chances.
Wolves game a good example. A lot of things we did are things we have to do - we have to defend together, everybody. It’s intense and will never be different. We have to show we are ready for that all the time. It was a really nice night.”
Graham Potter: “Beating Liverpool is my focus. I don’t worry about what is going to happen in five months’ time. We have to keep improving. We’ve been through a really tough time but are still together as a team and club. So that is very positive.”
Referee: Michael Oliver Assistants: Stuart Burt, Simon Bennett Fourth Official: Darren England VAR: John Brooks Assistant VAR: Constantine Hatzidakis
Kickoff is set for 3PM GMT/10AM EST tomorrow. Stick with The Liverpool Offside team to keep yourself up to date with team news and match buildup, live updates, and post-match 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.