Liverpool will hope to forget its UEFA Champions League disappointment as Jurgen Klopp’s side welcomes Chelsea to Anfield on Saturday.
The Reds were 3-0 up at halftime in their midweek clash with Sevilla, but the Spaniards managed three second-half goals to level the game at the Ramon Sanchez-Pizjuan, which left the Liverpool boss fuming.
Klopp will be hoping for better defending when his side faces in-form side Chelsea, which travels to Anfield on the back of five consecutive Premier League wins.
Victory for Liverpool would see the Reds move above the Blues, but a win for Chelsea would mean Antonio Conte’s side move six points clear of the hosts.
Our friends at Football Whispers take a look at where the game could be won and lost, using its unique algorithm to predict the most likely starting XI.
Key Battle: Dejan Lovren vs. Alvaro Morata
None of Liverpool’s defense came out of the game against Sevilla particularly well, but the back line will have to up its game against Chelsea.
In Alvaro Morata, Chelsea has one of the most in-form players in the Premier League. In fact, only Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah has more goals than the Spaniard’s eight.
Morata has been involved in four assists, taking his total direct involvement in goals to 12, which is the most in the Premier League alongside Manchester City’s Leroy Sane (six goals and six assists).
So Chelsea’s visit will be a big test for Dejan Lovren, if he is included in the starting XI. The last time Liverpool faced a top-six side, it lost 4-1 to Tottenham Hotspur, with Lovren’s poor performance leading to death threats from supporters. He’ll want to prove his critics wrong.
Potential match winners: Mohamed Salah (Liverpool) vs Eden Hazard (Chelsea)
Chelsea old boy Salah must be making the Blues’ board wish they had never sanctioned his sale.
The Egyptian has thrived after leaving Stamford Bridge permanently in the summer of 2016 and found himself back in England with Liverpool, where he currently heads the Premier League top scorer chart.
He is averaging 3.5 shots per game this season, more than any other Liverpool player, and Chelsea has to be wary of giving him too much space at Anfield.
Eden Hazard was in fine form last season as he helped his side to its first league title under Conte.
So far this season, he has managed just three goals and one assist, but the Belgian looked dangerous against West Bromwich Albion last game, scoring twice and setting up Morata as well.
No player in the Premier League in 2017-18 has managed more dribbles per game than Hazard’s 3.4, and Liverpool will be wary of him producing a moment of magic to change the outcome of the match.
How they’ll line up
Football Whispers uses data to predict the starting lineups for teams by accounting for a number of different factors, including injuries, suspensions, the statistical likelihood to play, the match the competition is played, the player’s previous performance and the style of the opposition.
Long-term absentee Nathaniel Clyne, who has a back problem, is the only player out of Saturday’s clash for the home side. After two games in a week where he was below par, Klopp could replace captain Jordan Henderson in the starting lineup with Emre Can.
With Chelsea playing a day later than Liverpool in the Champions League, Conte rested a few players for the trip to Qarabag, with Alvaro Morata, Gary Cahill, Andreas Christensen and Tiemoue Bakayoko all starting on the bench. Conte likely will restore them to the starting lineup this weekend, though.
Michy Batshuayi, Victor Moses, Kenedy and Charly Musonda missed the game against Qarabag due to injury. The Nigerian wing-back is the only one of the four likely to be ready for the Liverpool game, but it may be too soon for him to start.
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