Chelsea will resume their Premier League journey on Wednesday night, returning to the field after participating in two domestic cup competitions. The team faces a formidable challenge as they take on league leaders Liverpool at Anfield. Their previous encounter with Liverpool at Stamford Bridge ended in a tightly contested 1-1 draw, leaving both teams eager to claim victory in this upcoming match.
Here are three things to look forward to.
1. EFL Cup final preview
The eagerly awaited match at Anfield is not the last time these two sides will face each other this season. They will meet again in the EFL Cup final towards the end of February. Although both teams might see changes in player availability, Wednesday's game will offer fans a glimpse of what to expect from their upcoming clash. This match will provide the fans and analysts a sneak peek into the strategies and form that Chelsea and Liverpool will bring to their highly anticipated EFL Cup showdown.
Recent encounters between these two teams reveal a narrative of closely matched rivals, often difficult to separate. There have been several goalless draws in their recent history. Two years ago, both domestic cup finals featured these teams, with Liverpool emerging victorious in a penalty shootout following a 0-0 draw after 120 minutes on both occasions. The 1-1 draw earlier in the season suggests that another tight match is likely when they meet again, with both sides demonstrating defensive capabilities and a knack for maintaining a deadlock.
2. Impact of injuries
Chelsea manager Mauricio Pochettino initially shrugged off concerns regarding Levi Colwill's injury following the match against Aston Villa. However, in Tuesday's press conference, Pochettino confirmed that the academy graduate will miss the upcoming fixture due to an injury he sustained during the warm-up ahead of last Saturday's game. Ben Chilwell should step into the starting lineup as Colwill's replacement, moving up from the bench where he started in the previous match. This change could bring a different dynamic to Chelsea's defense as they prepare for their crucial encounter.
On the brighter side for Chelsea, Malo Gusto and Christopher Nkunku are available for selection. While Mauricio Pochettino did not confirm if either of them will start, their availability is a significant boost for the team. The French duo plays a crucial role in Chelsea's lineup, and the team often performs well when the pair are involved. Their return from injuries is a significant advantage for the Blues, potentially enhancing their offensive and defensive capabilities in the upcoming match. Their presence could be a game-changer, adding depth and skill to Chelsea's strategy.
3. Which Chelsea will show up?
Under Mauricio Pochettino this season, unpredictability has unfortunately become an identity for Chelsea, often leaving fans uncertain about which version of the Blues will show up to represent their club. This inconsistency has been a point of concern. Wednesday's match will only be their third encounter away against a traditional top-six side. Their first such match was a resounding 4-1 victory against Tottenham Hotspur, showcasing Chelsea at their best. However, the second encounter, against Manchester United, told a different story, with the home side dominating Chelsea. This contrast in performances adds to the unpredictability, leaving fans and analysts guessing about which Chelsea team will turn up at Anfield.
Liverpool is among the in-form teams of the season, and impressively, even the loss of their talisman, Mohamed Salah, hasn't slowed their march forward. With the announcement of Jurgen Klopp's departure at the end of the season, the team is more determined than ever to end his tenure on a high note. The match against Chelsea marks their first Premier League game since this announcement, adding extra motivation for Liverpool. On the other side, Mauricio Pochettino and his Chelsea squad should be more than ready to disrupt Liverpool's momentum. They have the opportunity to spoil Liverpool's plans, starting with the showdown at Anfield on Wednesday, and aim to continue this effort at Wembley. This matchup sets the stage for a highly competitive and potentially pivotal clash in the context of both teams' seasons.