There’s plenty of shared history between the two head coaches in this one, with Jürgen Klopp and Thomas Tuchel inexorably linked through their times at Mainz 04 and Borussia Dortmund, and also in their big battles in the Champions League as Liverpool and PSG head coaches, respectively.
And now they begin a new chapter in England, though how long this one will last is anyone’s guess. Tuchel’s only on an 18-month contract while Klopp finds himself under more pressure than at any point since his first season at the club. Klopp may hold a distinct edge head-to-head, 9 wins to 2 with 3 draws, but all that will go out the window tonight at Anfield, where the only thing that will matter will be the three points on offer that could prove most crucial in the fight for the top-four — especially with both Manchester United and Leicester City dropping two points yesterday.
Date / Time: Thursday, March 4, 2021, 20.15 GMT; 3:15pm EST; 1:45am IST (next day)
Venue: Anfield, Liverpool, England
Referee: Craig Pawson (on pitch); Anthony Taylor (VAR)
Forecast: Cold and breezy
On TV: Sky Sports Main Event (UK); none (USA), Star Sports Select HD1 (India); SuperSport Premier League, Canal+ 3 Sport (NGA); elsewhere
Streaming: Sky Go (UK); Peacock (USA); Hotstar (India); DStv Now (NGA) — Peacock is NBC’s streaming service, and is very much the future (and increasingly the present, too) with NBCSN going away at the end of the year. It’s not the best (poor UI, lag, etc.), but it’s what we’ve got. Comcast Xfinity customers get it for free (still counts against your data). Others have to pay $5/month or $50/year ($10 & $100 for the premium ad-free version). Comcast is the parent company of NBC and an investor in Vox/SB Nation. Here’s our affiliate link if you want to make our corporate overlords happy.
Liverpool team news: Liverpool put an end to their four(4!)-match Premier League losing streak with a 2-0 win against Sheffield United over the weekend, so we no longer have to worry about them turning the corner against us (like so many others seemingly have done so in recent months).
On the other hand, if they’ve turned the corner, then that means we would have to face the “true” Liverpool, which might be a problem seeing as how we’ve not won at Anfield in the league since Klopp’s been there (the one win we do have since 2014 was against their B-team in the League Cup in 2018). With Alisson, Fabinho, and Diogo Jota all possibly back in contention to lessen the team’s frankly ridiculous injury troubles a bit, Chelsea’s task could only get tougher. Virgil van Dijk, Joel Matip, Joe Gomez, and Jordan Henderson remain out.
Liverpool’s title defense may have collapsed rather spectacularly, but it still would be a massive surprise if they were to miss out on the top-four at the end of the season. But even if we assume West Ham will fall away in the final dozen games, there are still at least four teams (us two, plus the aforementioned Leicester and Manchester United) vying for three spots — and that’s not even counting those who are just below us and still not really out of it. The winner of this one would get a tremendous boost in that fight.
View from the enemy: The Liverpool Offside
Chelsea team news: Thiago Silva’s thigh injury continues to drag on like so many soft tissue injuries often do, as he’ll miss his seventh match in a row. Andreas Christensen has been doing a good enough job deputizing thus far, and hopefully that continues for at least a bit longer.
Our only other injury concern is Tammy Abraham’s ankle, which has flared up again, though the bigger concern is Tammy’s overall situation and slide down the pecking order under Tuchel (a slide, which, in fairness, had already begun under Lampard as well). Callum Hudson-Odoi, who was spotted with a big icepack on his knee after his latest eyebrow-raising substitution by the head coach over the weekend is available and traveling with the team.
One might never guess from the undue criticisms, but Tuchel remains unbeaten as Chelsea head coach, with six wins from nine in all competitions, and has evidently decided that the best way to get us a top-four finish is to grind out some results by keeping clean sheets and making us tough to beat. And before the back-to-back draws in the last two games, that plan had been working swimmingly. This game’s unlikely to bring anything different in terms of an overarching gameplan, so hopefully it goes back to working just fine.
Previously: We’ve lost our last four against the Reds in the league, but we did beat them 2-0 in the FA Cup last season, in one of the very last games before football, our lives, and the whole world changed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Let’s hope our next win against Liverpool brings about better fortunes for all (well, except them in the Premier League).