Preview: Chelsea vs Liverpool
Liverpool’s winning run of 7 games in all competitions came to shuddering halt during the midweek.
Against their top 4, and possibly, title rivals, Liverpool succumbed to a 2-1 defeat. Now out of the Carabao Cup, Liverpool will resume their Premier League endeavours by travelling to the Bridge. What can we expect in this 2nd round between both teams?
The Carabao Cup was probably one of Klopp’s lowest priorities for the season. This can be inferred from Klopp’s team selection, where Liverpool’s second choice defence were given a run out. In addition, Klopp made near wholesale changes to the midfield and attack compared to the side that faced Southampton.
That being said, Klopp’s team are out of one competition, which is a bitter pill to swallow. Especially given that it’s been seven years since the Reds last won silverware.
However, under strange circumstances, Liverpool have been granted the immediate opportunity to make amends for their loss by facing the same opponents. This time though it’ll be the first choice XI that is stepping onto the field, barring van Djik who’s a doubt. And those 11 players will be hungry to extend their winning run in the league.
Given the fact that Liverpool tend to bounce back after defeats to the same opposition in the League Cup (think Leicester last year and Man City in 17/18), it’ll be ominous for the men in Blue. With that record, Liverpool should be confident that they can repeat the trick this year against Chelsea.
The Hazard-Giroud Combo
Liverpool were coping well and creating chances for the majority of the game. And though they should have buried the game long ago, they were comfortably leading by a goal in the second half.
That was before Sarri decided it was time to unleash Hazard.
At 1-1, the Belgian collected the ball out right and whizzed past a couple of bewildered Liverpool players with ease. In the blink of the eye, the ball was in the back of net with Mignolet having no chance at saving Hazard’s shot. That match winning display just simply emphasises how special a player Hazard is.
Having called Hazard a “special player“, Klopp is no doubt aware of the threat Hazard possess. When asked how he intends to stop Hazard, he simply replied that “we have to make sure we close the right spaces and if we have a challenge, we should try to win it a bit more than we did in that situation”.
While Hazard may have now scored 6 goals in 7 games against Liverpool in all competitions, the Reds may have to watch out for another danger man. Having failed to impress on Wednesday, Giroud is likely to take Morata’s place at Stamford Bridge. He’s the perfect man to unleash Hazard by holding up the ball and allowing Hazard to cut in from the left. With 5 goals in his last 6 starts against Liverpool, he’s an equally dangerous attacker.
Liverpool need to find a solution to nullify the duo to improve their odds of victory.
As potent as their attack may be, the same can’t be said about Chelsea’s defence. After all, they’ve kept only four clean sheets in their nine competitive outings thus far, letting in seven goals in the process. With Sarri employing a high press not too dissimilar to Klopp’s, it puts their defenders under extreme pressure.
With the players currently at their disposal, it’s little wonder that the Blues look vulnerable at the back. David Luiz for all his ball playing capabilities is erratic at times, while Gary Cahill just isn’t equipped to be playing in a high line.
To add on, Marcos Alonso’s tendency to rampage forward leaves a gaping hole in Chelsea’s defence. Having the speedy Salah on the right would mean being able to exploit that gap and using it to our advantage. If Alonso gets his positioning wrong, it could spell trouble for the Blues.
With Antonio Rudiger a doubt for the game, Chelsea’s defensive problems just got a whole lot bigger.