This week, we saw the return of European competition with the Champions League and Europa League both kicking off. The two teams that we’re previewing this weekend were unaffected by these competitions. Last season was disappointing for Liverpool and Chelsea as they both failed to qualify for any type of European competition. This year, things are starting to look up for both clubs as look set to challenge for a place in the top four. Who will take another step towards that Champions League goal Friday night?
Starting off with the visitors, Jürgen Klopp’s squad is coming off of an emphatic 4-1 win over the reigning champions Leicester City last weekend. In that victory, we saw just how many goal scorers that Liverpool have at their disposal. Going into Friday’s match, five different players have found the back of the net for the Reds in league play (three players scored against Leicester City). This wide range of attacking options makes Liverpool a real challenge to defend against. There isn’t one, or even two players that Chelsea can focus their defensive efforts on like they can with some of the other teams in the league. From the opening four matches of the season, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mané have looked like they biggest threats in attack, and I think that they will continue this form at Stamford Bridge.
One player that hasn’t found the back of the net in the league this season is Daniel Sturridge. The 27-year-old has become a somewhat interesting figure at Anfield in the last couple of seasons. When he’s healthy, you could argue that he’s the most dangerous striker in England. Sadly, he’s rarely at 100 percent, as of late. This season, he’s featured in three of the Reds’ opening four matches, but his lethal touch just doesn’t seem to be there just yet. In the English League Cup (formerly known as the Capital One Cup, the Carling Cup, and countless other names), Sturridge managed to find the back of the net twice against Burton in a 5-0 win. That form has yet to translate over to the top flight. Since moving to Anfield from Chelsea back in 2012, Sturridge has only scored against his former employers once, and that was way back in 2013. Can he break this drought Friday and re-emerge as the lethal striker that we all remember?
While Liverpool’s leading man has struggled, Chelsea’s has been on a bit of a tear this season. As much as I despise Diego Costa, it’s impossible to argue with his form through the first four matches. A two-goal performance against Swansea saw the Spaniard boost his tally to four on the year, and it looks like 27-year-old is on his way to another 20-goal campaign. His fiery demeanor on the pitch can get him into trouble, and it’s a small miracle that he hasn’t been sent off yet this season, but it also makes him a constant pest to opposing backlines. Last year, he managed to put one away against the Reds, and I think that there’s a good chance he repeats that Friday.
A player that looks set to make his “debut” for Chelsea against the Reds is David Luiz. The Brazilian defender left Stamford Bridge in 2014 for the greener pastures of Paris Saint-Germain. Now, the polarizing 29-year-old has returned to England. While Luiz can shine as an aggressive, ball-winning center back, sometimes his style of play can open up gaps in the backline. With Liverpool’s versatile and dangerous attacking front, this over enthusiasm could prove to be a fatal mistake for the Blues. With Thiago Silva at PSG, Luiz developed a solid chemistry and Silva was able to counterbalance his partner’s style of play almost perfectly. Now, Luiz must redevelop that type of chemistry with either Gary Cahill or John Terry. Liverpool will provide the Brazilian with an eventful debut, and I’m interested to see how easily he is able to integrate himself back into the side.
Even though Chelsea are currently undefeated on the season, and four spots ahead of Liverpool, I think that the Reds take the spoils in this match. Klopp’s squad look too dangerous in the final third for Chelsea. The Blues have only managed to keep a single clean sheet this season, and I doubt that number increases after this match. Final score: Liverpool 2-1 Chelsea