Many Premier League games in the season are termed as “title decider” but this time around the game comes very early in the season. Just 3 weeks into the season, and terming the game as a potential decider shows the competitiveness of the league and the stature of play displayed by both Liverpool and Chelsea.
Both the teams currently are 2 of the only 5 teams with a 100% record in the league. They sit on the fence in terms of goals scored and conceded as they have scored 5 each and are yet to concede in the league! But the 100% record of at least one of the teams will be over as they clash horns in Anfield. The last Chelsea visit to Anfield was a memorable one of they picked all 3 points. But this time, the fans are back and one just doesn’t want to play in a packed Anfield stadium.
The Champions of Europe are having a cracking start to the season as they easily dismantled arch-rivals Arsenal, following a win against Crystal Palace in the opening weekend. The introduction of Lukaku was massive as alone was the biggest problem for Arteta and his defensive line and the evolved Chelsea admirer will be hoping for more such games over the season.
The team which looked clueless last season, have finally got their form back as the fans could relate the early games of the season similar to their team which won the Champions League. The return of Virgil Van Djik has just been the solution to every problem Klopp faced and the revival of Trent on the right side is just a nightmare for any defending team.
Referee: Robert Jones
Assistants: Scott Ledger, Derek Eaton
Fourth official: Keith Stroud
VAR: David Coote
Assistant VAR: Nick Hopton
WHEN & WHERE?
Venue: Anfield Stadium
Date: Saturday, 28th of August 2021
Time: Kick-off at 18:00 BST
Andy Robertson has made it clear that he will be available for the game against Chelsea but it will be interesting to see if Klopp drops his in-form man, Tsimikas, for his preferred and experienced Scottish International. Fabinho’s chance to feature is still uncertain after the Brazilian missing out the previous game due to personal reasons. Alex-Oxlade Chamberlain will also be back with the squad but a starting spot still remains a doubt.
Like Klopp, Tuchel also will have most of the squad to chose from with Pulisic and Ruben Loftus-Cheek being major doubts as they serve their quarantine after testing positive last week. Ziyech and Kante, who started on the bench against Arsenal might walk into the starting XI after both having full training sessions over the week.
Defensive structure governing midfield’s abilities
The two former Dortmund managers will face each other once again. Both the German managers are well aware of the style of play as they have had enough history amongst them. The last time, Tuchel got the better of his compatriot as Mason Mount’s goal separated the two teams at Anfield.
Both the teams have massively worked on their defensive structure for the past seasons and it will be very hefty to break both the defensive lines. It will be a battle of classic Back 4 vs Back 3(5) and the midfield thus becomes the focal point of the match. N’golo Kante and Jorginho’s role will be very important against Liverpool’s midfield which has seen rotations in the last two fixtures.
Romelu Lukaku up top has given Kai Havertz the freedom to roam in the midfield and this helped Chelsea to carry the ball forwards easily as against Arsenal Kai was seen dropping deep to assist Jorginho and Kovacic. But the presence of Mighty Belgium might also be a problem for Blues as he now has become the focal point and if Van Djik did get the better of him, the fate of match could be decided well early.
Virgil Van Djik – Liverpool
The return of the big wall at the back has just transformed an average-looking Liverpool team into a title favorite. In his first match in this season’s campaign, he made the most touches, won 75% of the aerial duels, and managed 4 clearances from their half. Liverpool’s defense just saw the morning light by his revival and thus have not conceded yet this season. They even have just faced 3 shots on target each in the two matches and the credit greatly lies on the shoulders of the Dutchman.
Van Dijk’s return has also helped Trent Alexander-Arnold to return to his absolute best and contribute in the attack which he does the best. Trent with his inch-perfect crosses has been all over the media but the credit to his performances must be shared with Van Djik as his presence gives him the freedom to play further upfront.
But Van Djik will be against one of his biggest rivals ever in the league, as he will have to face the physical strength and hold-up ability of Lukaku. Lukaku single-handedly toyed around the Arsenal defense and Pablo Mari still will be in shock over what happened last weekend. A battle of Lukaku vs Van Djik will be just as fearsome as it ever gets.
Kai Havertz – Chelsea
While Lukaku might be the obvious choice to be the pick of the lot, in a big game like this, Klopp will have plans for Chelsea’s No.9. Also, in this match, Lukaku will try to hold the play up top and try to release the two players alongside him, which most likely will be Mount and Havertz. Kai, since his goal in the Champions League Final, has been in one of the best forms and was key for Germany in their Euros campaign.
Now playing alongside a natural striker gives him the freedom to roam over the right side and also make intelligent runs. With Liverpool full-backs being very advanced in attack, Kai Havertz’s timing of runs will be crucial as Lukaku can hold up the center-backs and help release Kai free and let him do his best in front of the goal. Knowing the weakness of Trent to track back quickly, we might see Kai and Mount exchanging flanks time and time again to pressurize the right side of Liverpool.
Liverpool (4-3-3): Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Van Dijk, Matip, Robertson; Fabinho, Henderson, Thiago; Salah, Jota, Mane
Chelsea (3-4-2-1): Mendy; Azpilicueta, Silva, Rudiger; James, Jorginho, Kante, Chilwell; Mount, Havertz; Lukaku