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Preview: Chelsea vs Liverpool – prediction, team news, line-ups

A Premier League classic between last season’s underachievers Chelsea and Liverpool makes for interesting reading at the start of the 2023/24 season.

Sunday’s mouth-watering showdown at Stamford Bridge offers the dysfunctional Blues an opportunity for a fresh start under new manager Mauricio Pochettino. 

Pochettino’s arrival, designed to raise Chelsea from last season’s ashes, has renewed optimism in west London following a humiliating 12th-place finish in 2022/23, the club’s second-worst in the Premier League era.

Without the distraction of European football for the first time in the 21st century, the Argentine tactician’s only assignment will be to reignite the Pensioners’ top-four ambitions. 

A lack of continental commitments could be a blessing in disguise for the new Chelsea manager after overseeing a massive squad overhaul in the summer.

His Liverpool counterpart Jurgen Klopp has orchestrated his own rebuild after missing out on a Champions League finish for the first time since his maiden season at Anfield in 2015/16.

Long-serving midfielders Jordan Henderson, James Milner and Fabinho are no longer part of the Reds dressing room, with Dominik Szoboszlai and Alexis Mac Allister taking their places.

While it’s too early to tell which version of Liverpool will emerge from last season’s disappointment, their free-scoring pre-season form can inspire confidence in Klopp’s corner. 

Mohamed Salah and his teammates bagged at least three goals in five summer friendlies, suggesting they are on the verge of recovery. 

Match Preview

Chelsea’s unbeaten pre-season run (W3, D2) gives the impression Pochettino is the suitable candidate to stem the bleeding at the Bridge following a woeful tail-end of last season. 

Except for a 3-1 win at Bournemouth in May, the Blues had gone winless in 11 of their 12 final 2022/23 Premier League fixtures (D4, L7), denying their fans any legitimate reason to dream big ahead of 2023/24.

Since a 1-0 win over relegation boys Leeds United in early March, they have gone seven consecutive home league matches without winning (D4, L3). 

Despite the new owner’s lavish spending in his first two transfer windows, only three sides to have secured Premier League survival last season netted fewer goals than Chelsea (38).

While the proportion of Liverpool’s downfall last term wasn’t as nearly as alarming as Chelsea’s, Klopp, a perfectionist as he is, will expect more from his star-studded squad in 2023/24

Travel sickness was the Reds’ Achilles heel last season, as evidenced by their indifferent away record (W6, D7, L6) and an underwhelming -1 goal difference. 

However, Liverpool went from strength to strength towards the end of the previous top-flight campaign, stitching together an 11-match unbeaten league streak (W7, D4).

The Merseyside heavyweights come into proceedings confident of maintaining their domestic resurgence after going undefeated in their opening Premier League contest across the last ten seasons (W8, D2).

Team News

Marquee summer signing Christopher Nkunku won’t be at Pochettino’s disposal after undergoing knee surgery following an injury he picked up in a pre-season game against Borussia Dortmund.

Wesley Fofana is another high-profile absence in the Chelsea camp, while Benoit Badiashile and Noni Madueke face a race against time to make themselves available for this day-one blockbuster.

Ex-Brighton & Hove Albion goalkeeper Robert Sanchez could make his Blues debut between the sticks, while Nicolas Jackson is the likeliest candidate to lead the line.

Liverpool have stayed largely injury-free ahead of this trip, with Thiago Alcantara remaining the only notable absentee.

Chelsea potential starting line-up:

(4-2-3-1): Robert Sanchez; Reece James, Thiago Silva, Levi Colwill, Ben Chilwell; Enzo Fernandez, Andrey Santos; Raheem Sterling, Carney Chukwuemeka, Mykhailo Mudryk; Nicolas Jackson.

Liverpool potential starting line-up:

(4-3-3): Alisson Becker; Trent Alexander-Arnold, Virgil van Dijk, Ibrahima Konate, Andy Robertson; Alexis Mac Allister, Dominik Szoboszlai, Curtis Jones; Mohamed Salah, Luis Diaz, Diogo Jota.

We Say: Chelsea 1-1 Liverpool

The last four Premier League meetings between Chelsea and Liverpool have ended level, including a brace of scoreless draws in 2022/23.

Since both sides will want to avoid starting the new season with a loss, we can envisage another share of the spoils.

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