It’s fifth versus third, red versus blue, Klopp versus Conte, 433 versus 352, reliving history versus making history in Saturday’s prime time top-six marquee matchup, wherein neither side can afford to drop points. Both teams are in good form, both are coming off of midweek away games in the Champions League — though with Chelsea playing a day later and twice as far away as Liverpool’s trip to Sevilla. Then again, Chelsea did not give up 3-0 second-half lead like Liverpool did.
Chelsea haven’t beaten Liverpool in five tries (three 1-1 draws and two losses at the Bridge), but Chelsea also haven’t lost at Anfield since the game only Liverpool cared about in early May 2012 (before Di Matteo’s Chelsea beat them in the FA Cup final and then went on to win the Champions League as well). If you’re keeping track, that means that none of the current squad have ever tasted defeat at Anfield — Sturridge once did, but he now plays for Liverpool.
Would be lovely to keep that last bit of trivia going.
Date / Time: Saturday, November 25, 2017, 17:30 GMT; 12:30pm EST; 11pm IST
Venue: Anfield, Liverpool, England
Referee: Michael Oliver — I’m not sure if we’re still considering Oliver the best referee working in England, but he’s back for his second Chelsea game of the season after the 0-0 draw against Arsenal back in September.
Forecast: Rainy, windy, crappy.
On TV: BT Sport 1 (UK); NBC, Universo (USA); Star Sports Select HD1 (India); elsewhere
Streaming online: BT Sport Live (UK); NBC Sports Live Extra, Universo Now (USA); Hotstar (India)
Liverpool team news: Before collapsing in most hilarious fashion to snatch a draw out of the gaping maws of victory on Tuesday in Seville, Liverpool almost looked competent in defence, conceding just once in four games. The level of opposition in those games may have been pretty bad, but the four easy three-goal victories also went against the usual narrative of Klopp’s outfit often playing down (or up) to the level of their opposition.
Despite those goals, and a league-leading amount of shots, Liverpool have scored just one goal more than Chelsea’s 23. On the other hand, they’ve lost just three games all season in all competitions, albeit by a combined 11:1 scoreline. Bizarre is a good word to describe some of Liverpool’s greatest inconsistencies, as Rob talked about it in his rather ominous opposition analysis (even if he gets the Chelsea projected lineup badly wrong, probably).
Klopp is expected to keep his more-or-less settled lineup, despite the availability of Joël Matip. Emre Can and Adam Lallana are facing late fitness tests, while Nathaniel Clyne remains out long-term alongside injured backup goalkeepers Ádám Bogdán and Danny Ward.
View from the enemy: The Liverpool Offside
Chelsea team news: Conte is expected to go with the 3-5-2 that seems to be the new hotness after the 3-4-3 was found out. Even midweek, when the Blues looked to have lined up in the latter, Pedro ended up playing a midfield-forward hybrid role, a la Tiemoué Bakayoko, more than his usual inside forward role as he would’ve normally.
The main concern for Conte is match fitness, with barely 72 hours between the end of Wednesday’s game 3000 miles away in Azerbaijan and kick-off in Liverpool. Some, like Christensen and Bakayoko got full rests, while Hazard, Kanté, Morata, and Marcos Alonso only played 25-75 minutes. Victor Moses’s continuing absence is a concern at right wing-back, though the recently crowned Nigerian Player of the Year should hopefully be at least on the bench.
Since the 3-0 debacle in Rome, Chelsea have won three in a row and kept clean sheets in all three, part of a 6 wins in a 7 games run over the past month and change. The one trend that seems as strong as ever with Conte is that he simply doesn’t do draws (only 2 all season so far, both at home, after just 3 all last season) — it’s win or lose.
Previously: One of the very few draws just mentioned happened last time we came to Anfield, with Georginio Wijnaldum’s second-half equalizer canceling out David Luiz’s surprise free kick, before Costa missed a penalty that I had completely forgotten about.