The scheduling overmind has decided that this is Liverpool Week. First Chelsea play them in the third round of the League Cup on Wednesday, and then the real battle is joined on Saturday at Stamford Bridge, when Premier League points and top of the table will be at stake.
Maurizio Sarri Gianfranco Zola and Jurgen Klopp have paid the requisite lip service to the importance of the Carabao Cup. The truth, of course, is that both teams are going to rest players ahead of the weekend rematch. The only question is, how many? Both are being cagey about it, as you’d expect.
Chelsea own five League Cups, tied for second most all-time, the last won under Mourinho Mk.2 in 2015 against Tottenham. Unbeaten in the league, the rampant Reds have won the trophy a record eight times.
As Frank Lampard’s Derby County showed at Old Trafford on Tuesday, anything is possible in single-match elimination.
Date / Time: Wednesday,September 26, 2018, 19:45 BST; 2:45pm EDT; 12:15am IST (next day)
Venue: Anfield, Liverpool, England
Referee: Andre Marriner — third time he’s run a Liverpool - Chelsea match and we’ve yet to win one (a loss and a draw thus far.) As we’ve noted in the past, he’s on the more lenient side, certainly in terms of cards.
Forecast: Mild. Forecast is 16°C (61°F), just a 6 per cent chance of rain.
On TV: Sky Sports Main Event (UK); none (USA); none (India) elsewhere
Streaming online: Sky Go (UK); ESPN+ (USA); ChelseaTV (audio commentary only; int’l)
Liverpool team news: Klopp confirmed that Simon Mignolet will mind the net. His lack of recent game time is a good thing for Chelsea.
Simon Mignolet will play his first official game for Liverpool in 8 months, his first official game in 6 months, He played his last game with Belgium against Saudi Arabia in March. His last Liverpool game: #LFC - West Brom in the FA Cup (27th of January). pic.twitter.com/hSAUrtoEEi— Kristof Terreur (@HLNinEngeland) September 25, 2018
One-time Chelsea target Virgil van Dijk is coming back from injury and might well be held out for Saturday. Dejan Lovren appears to be ready to play again. Divock Origi is out (ankle) and Adam Lallana (groin) is training but might not be match-ready yet. Dominic Solanke is fit for selection. The Reds’ strength in depth means that summer signings Xherdan Shaqiri, Fabinho, and Naby Keita have not played as much as they might have been expected to; they will probably be raring to go and impress the manager in this one.
Liverpool finished last season by losing three of four, including to Chelsea in the league and to Real Madrid in the Champions League final. They’ve turned that disappointment into seven wins from seven games in all competitions to start this season. They look practically unstoppable, but we do get two shots in a row at them this week.
View from the enemy: The Liverpool Offside
Chelsea team news: Ruben Loftus-Cheek is out after getting a mystery ailment that required an injection over the weekend. Both Antonio Rudiger (groin) and Pedro (shoulder) are out too. We’ll see if Willy Caballero gets his first game of the season. Jorginho surely needs a rest, but it’s impossible to predict whether or not Sarri will (allow himself to) make wholesale changes.
Last time: Here’s an intriguing factoid; Chelsea have met Liverpool six times in the League Cup and each time the winner has gone on to the final. We last clashed in 2015, when, after a 1-1 draw at Anfield, Chelsea won the rematch 1-0 at the Bridge on a Branislav Ivanovic header from a Willian free kick in the first half of extra time. The Blues would go on to beat Spurs in the final, 2-0. Incidentally, even though that was only three years ago, only 5 players from the matchday 18 remain at the club (Azpilicueta, Cahill, Fabregas, Willian, Hazard), 6 if you also count Zouma who’s gotten lost in the loan wilderness.