Liverpool will be in desperate search of revenge against Chelsea this weekend as the Reds attempt to overturn their midweek troubles, after Eden Hazard dumped the visitors out of the Caraboa Cup in a 2-1 victory at Anfield.
In what is deemed a critical, season-defining set of fixtures for Liverpool, they will be hoping to extend their perfect Premier League record.
Chelsea, who remain unbeaten after a flying start under Maurizio Sarri, are beginning to be touted as title challengers and pose the greatest threat so far to Jurgen Klopp’s side.
Earlier this week Klopp told the media that Chelsea are dangerous title contenders: “I know that people always are talking about – I don’t exactly know why – Man City being clear or us being Champions at the end of the season, but they completely forgot Chelsea.
“This team is experienced. They have won the title already and they know how it works."
Klopp will be sweating over the fitness of Liverpool’s record signing Virgil van Dijk after the Dutch captain took a blow to the ribs in the Red’s previous Premier League match against Southampton. If deemed fit as expected he will partner the ever-developing Joe Gomez who has excelled leaps and bounds in his new central role this season.
Both teams will start ‘stronger’ sides after making eight changes each to their line-ups in midweek with a bundle of elite stars set to grace Stamford Bridge this weekend including the likes of Roberto Firmino, Hazard and Mo Salah returning to face his former side.
Naby Keita will continue his battle with Jordan Henderson for a starting spot with the summer signing Keita expected to pip the Englishman to a place next to the revolutionary James Milner at the heart of midfield.
Joint Premier League top-scorer Hazard is no doubt the first name on the team-sheet for Sarri after an astounding winner at Anfield on Wednesday, with N'Golo Kante also set to return to the Blues’ first team line-up.
Chelsea face a minor injury crisis with four key players at risk of being excluded from the Chelsea squad. Antonio Rudiger is a doubt after sustaining a minor hamstring injury against West Ham last time out, with centre-back partner Andreas Christensen’s position in the side uncertain after being substituted midweek with illness.
Ruben Loftus-Cheek has had a torrid time since returning from a successful loan spell at Crystal Palace and the English international will at best feature on the bench after complaints of a shin injury against PAOK in the Europa League.
Spanish winger Pedro is set to face a late fitness test to indicate the length of his involvement this weekend, with Willian expected to retain his place from midweek.
Chelsea – Arrizabalaga; Alonso, Cahill, Luiz, Azpilicueta, Jorginho, Kante, Barkley, Hazard, Giroud, Willian
Liverpool – Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Gomez, Van Dijk, Robertson, Keita, Wijnaldum, Milner, Salah, Mane, Firmino.
Key battle: Mohamed Salah vs Marcos Alonso
Liverpool poster-boy Salah will be keen to raise his game against his former side Chelsea and after already scoring three Premier League goals, one behind last season’s record breaking tally, the Egyptian will be hoping to capitalise on any potential defensive fragilities of full-back Marcos Alonso.
The Spaniard perfectly summarises the term ‘modern full-back’ with his attacking link-up sequences with Hazard capable of tearing apart any defence.
Though, Alonso will need to be fully attentive to the attacking potential of forward Salah, who will seek space in behind the left-back and look to link-play with forward compatriots Firmino and Mane.