Liverpool travelled to ‘potential’ title contenders Chelsea in their opening away game in the league and came out deserved winners in a professional, controlled performance.
Liverpool made one forced change in defence with Fabinho being forced to line up in defence along side Trent Arnold, Van Dijk and Robertson due to injuries to Gomez and Matip.
There were pre match talk about the drop in Alisson’s form and how his performance levels were dropping to Mignolet’s levels. Part of that prediction came true with a great penalty save against Jorginho’s hop-skip and jump. He also made a tremendous save late on to ensure Liverpool ended with a clean sheet.
The whole of the defence had an easier game than expected due to the sending off of Christensen close to half time. A special shout out to Fabinho’s performance though! There were pre match worries that he would be ‘isolated’ , ‘targeted’ by Werner but he was up to the task with his man marking and tackling, which were both on point.
Liverpool’s midfield was the same from the Leeds’ game with Henderson, Wijnaldum and Keita starting the game. The midfield struggled to influence the game in the first half till they dying minutes when Henderson’s quick release meant Mané was through and was fouled by Christensen resulting in a red card. Henderson was taken off at half time for the much awaited debut of Thiago. All eyes were on the new boy and he had a solid game where his major task was to ensure Liverpool made the best use of the large amounts of possession they were going to have, but there is far more to come from him once he settles into Liverpool’s way of playing. Milner replaced Keita in the second half to ensure Liverpool retained control in midfield. Wijnaldum had lot more freedom in the second half to join the attack and should have scored in the last minute of the match.
This game was Mané’s turn to shine. He was far more alert than Christensen to get ahead of him late on in the first half resulting in the foul on what was a clear goal scoring opportunity. Mané’s first goal was an exquisite team goal with attacking triumvirate all involved in the build up to the goal with Firmino setting up Mané for an exquisite finish. Sadio was ever aware of the pressure on Chelsea’s defence and his desire led to him causing another error from Kepa leading to a simple finish which sealed all three points for the champions. He could have had a hat trick late on but was denied by Kepa. Salah created couple of good opportunities for his team mates which was spurned but looked sharp as he did in the opening game.
The best performers for Liverpool tonight were Mané, Alisson and Fabinho. Sado Mané takes the honours for scoring both the goals tonight.
A brace from Sadio Mané saw Liverpool continue their winning start to their title defence with a 2-0 win over 10 man Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.
The Reds, who handed a debut to Thiago off the bench, were comfortable throughout — despite conceding a penalty which Alisson saved — and Andreas Christensen’s red card, for an utterly stupid foul on Mané, paved their path to a win.
From the get-go it was clear that the hosts game plan was to stymie the Reds attack and keep men behind the ball.
Nothing of note happened in the first half-hour of the game, with Liverpool monopolising possession of the ball in front of a packed and passive Blues defence.
The closest we came to a goal was when a fortuitous ricochet saw Mohamed Salah outsprint Kepa near the right-hand touchline. The Egyptian crossed towards the unguarded goal but Roberto Firmino’s attempts to get to the ball were cleared by Christensen.
Pre-game knocks to Joel Matip and Joe Gomez saw Fabinho deputise at centre half and the Brazilian coped admirably with the infrequent attacks of Chelsea — usually consisting of a clipped ball behind for Timo Werner — with the visitors rarely looking threatened in a half that blew into action just as it was about to end.
Jordan Henderson’s sublimely executed knuckleball pass sent Mané hurtling behind the hosts defensive line and towards Kepa, who was haring off his line. Christensen, though, with a tackle straight from the Rugby textbook, wrestled the Senegalese international to the floor. After consulting V.A.R., the referee had little option but to brandish the red card.
Chelsea saw it through to half time without conceding, but it was clear that a hard task had become much more difficult.
It didn’t take for the Reds — who introduced Thiago after Henderson complained about tightness in his thigh — to make their man advantage count after the interval.
After a second phase from a set-piece, Firmino played a give and go with Trent Alexander Arnold before clipping a sumptuous cross into the six-yard box for Mané — who managed to generate a brilliant amount of power on the ball — to nod home into the left corner with aplomb.
The Reds’ number 10 was at it again four minutes later, scoring a goal borne out of work rate and desire.
Having initially misplaced a pass to Georginio Wijnaldum, a visibly frustrated Mané kept running and managed to charge down Kepa’s attempted clearance. Controlling the ball, the 28-year-old then fired past the hapless Spaniard to double Liverpool’s lead.
The game was effectively over as a contest but Chelsea — especially Werner — kept plugging away and the German — so long linked to the English Champions — earned Frank Lampard’s team a penalty when he was upended in the box by Thiago.
The contact was minimal and the decision could charitably be described as soft, so there was a sense of justice when Alisson — whose form hasn’t been its usual level of brilliant of late — managed to save Jorginho’s meek penalty and preserve Liverpool’s clean sheet.
With an energy-sapping season ahead of them, the defending champions were more than happy to manage the remainder of the game and save as much energy as possible.
With Thiago prominent, the Reds were content to recycle possession and take the sting out of proceedings with Tammy Abraham’s shot — which Alisson excellently parried — the only instance of panic in the remainder of a game which petered out thanks to Liverpool’s mature game management.
Tougher games against 11 men will lie ahead, but Jurgen Klopp can take great encouragement from the win, the clean sheet and the adaptation to centre half of Fabinho in one of the most difficult away days in the league.
Liverpool Team: Alisson; Alexander Arnold, Fabinho, van Dijk, Robertson; Henderson, Keita, Wijnaldum; Salah, Firmino, Mané.
Substitutes: Milner for Keïta, Thiago for Henderson, Minamino for Firmino.
Unused Subs: Adrian, Williams, Tsimikas, Origi, Jones.
Venue – Stamford Bridge, Chelsea
Referee – Paul Tierney
Date & Time – Sunday, September 20th @ 16:30
Current Odds – Chelsea 21/10, Draw 13/5, Liverpool 6/5
Liverpool have won their last three Premier League meetings with Chelsea. Yet, this weekend’s game is likely to be one of the toughest tests Jürgen Klopp and his side have faced in recent seasons. Chelsea have delved deep into the transfer market this summer, adding quality in defence, midfield and attack. With that fresh impetus, however, comes pressure and Frank Lampard will be expected to achieve results this season with his team of stars. They’re still not Liverpool, though…FORM
Chelsea started their season off with an impressive 3-1 win at Brighton on Monday night. Goals from Jorginho, Reece James and Kurt Zouma gave them all three points at the Amex Stadium.
Kai Havertz and Timo Werner both made their debuts for The Blues and will be expected to start again on Sunday against the Premier League champions.
Liverpool got the win they needed against newly-promoted Leeds United last Saturday. Marcela Bielsa’s men gave the champions plenty of scares and played some fantastic football but they couldn’t live with the in-form Mohamed Salah on the day.
Sunday’s game is a huge one in terms of laying down an early marker for the season ahead and Liverpool will need to be at their absolute best against a new-look Chelsea side that could really click into gear this season.TEAM NEWS
Chelsea Team News
Frank Lampard is without Ben Chilwell, Billy Gilmour and Hakim Ziyech for Sunday’s fixture while Thiago Silva is also a major doubt. Christian Pulisic and Timo Werner are recovering from knocks but should be able to feature.
Lampard could opt for a midfield pairing of Mateo Kovačić and N’Golo Kanté with Reece James and Marcos Alonso playing as wing-backs.
Kai Havertz was played in a more advanced role than he’s used to against Brighton on the right-side of attack. He could start there again on Sunday with Timo Werner in the middle and Mason Mount cutting in from the left of the front three.
Liverpool Team News
First things first – Thiago Alcântara, who should have completed his signing before the end of this week – will not be registered in time to play any part at Chelsea.
Liverpool are without Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain who suffered a knee injury during pre-season. The attacking midfielder should be available for selection before the end of the month, however. He may even get some minutes in next Thursday’s EFL Cup tie at Lincoln City.
Kostas Tsimikas and Xherdan Shaqiri are both pushing for full fitness and will hope to be part of the matchday squad on Sunday.
I think Klopp will go with his favoured midfield from last season with Fabinho, Jordan Henderson and Gini Wijnaldum providing energy and stability.
Joe Gomez should keep his place alongside Virgil van Dijk in central defence despite a nervy start against Leeds for the young defender.
Mohamed Salah will hopefully be in red-hot form again after his opening day hat-trick last weekend. He will be in attack with Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mané.PREDICTED LINEUPS
Chelsea XI (3-4-3) – Kepa; Azpilicueta, Zouma, Rüdiger; James, Kanté, Kovacic, Alonso; Havertz, Werner, Mount
Liverpool XI (4-3-3) – Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Gomez, Van Dijk, Robertson; Fabinho, Henderson, Wijnaldum; Salah, Firmino, ManéWHEN THEY LAST MET
Liverpool won 5-3 in a pulsating encounter at Anfield back in July. It was the night The Reds were presented with the Premier League trophy. Goals from Naby Keïta, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Gini Wijnaldum, Roberto Firmino and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain gave Liverpool the win. Olivier Giroud, Tammy Abraham and Christian Pulisic were Chelsea’s scorers on the night.
Last season at Stamford Bridge, Liverpool won 2-1 thanks to goals from Alexander-Arnold and Firmino while Kanté scored the hosts’ consolation strike.
Willian and Ross Barkley were the scorers back in March when Chelsea knocked Liverpool out of the FA Cup with a 2-0 home win.PREDICTION
CHELSEA 2 – 2 LIVERPOOL
This game could have it all, including plenty of action on the sidelines following Lampard’s behaviour at Anfield in July. The two sides will be playing very positive football with fantastic pace and individual talents on display. This means there’s likely to be plenty of goalmouth action and maybe plenty of goals. I think it’s going to be a tough game for The Reds and a score draw could be on the cards.
Liverpool got off their Premier League defence in the most rollicking manner, winning by odd goal in seven, in what was a thrill-a-minute game. Liverpool took the lead three times and they were pegged back three times by the newly promoted side, but were not to be denied on the fourth such attempt.
Alisson started in goal while Trent, Gomez, Van Dijk and Robertson started in the back-line. Alisson was beaten by some fine finishes, though he was a tad unlucky for Leeds’ second goal as he got a touch but was not enough to prevent the goal.
The defence had a really average game, with Trent and Gomez unable to stop Harrison to stop for the first goal. Van Dijk’s careless attempted clearance opened up the opportunity for Bamford to equalise for the second time in the game. This was after Van Dijk beat the man marking setup with an intelligent run from deep to put Liverpool into the lead.
In midfield, Henderson made a surprise comeback after missing the whole pre-season alongside Naby Keita and Wijnaldum. Klopp made a reference to Henderson’s natural movement as an antidote to Leeds’ man marking as one of the reasons to putting him in. The midfield performance was quite pedestrian though, with very little impact in both attack and defence. Fabinho came in late in the game and won the decisive penalty.
In attack, the familiar sight of the front three of Mané, Firmino and Salah lined up. In what was a reversal from pre-season, Salah looked razor sharp and got his season off to a great start with an early penalty. A sweet finish doubled his goal tally which was rounded off with the late winning penalty. Mané, in direct contrast missed a handful of excellent opportunities to get his name on the goal scoring charts. Firmino was his usual self, keeping the team moving with his intelligent movement and one-touch football.
Man of the Match is a no brainer. Salah has now scored on opening day four seasons in a row. He looked razor sharp tonight with multiple attempts on goal and was alert to set up Mané couple of times. He looks ready to wrest the Golden boot back once again. An opening day hat trick in such a close result means he gets the Man of the Match along with the match ball.
Venue – Anfield, Liverpool
Referee – Michael Oliver
Date & Time – Saturday, September 12th @ 17:30
Current Odds – Liverpool 1/4, Draw 5/1, Leeds 9/1
More memories will be made over the next 9 months, more goals will be scored to make our jaws drop. New stars will arrive while others begin to fade. The never-ending cycle of the domestic season will continue with one team crowned champions again in May. Liverpool gave us that gift this past summer. Now the question arises, can Jürgen Klopp’s men go ahead and retain the title? It may be the most commonly-used cliché in football, but let’s take one game at a time. First up, Leeds…
Welcome back, Reds.FORM
Liverpool finished last season on 99 points, 18 ahead of nearest challengers Manchester City. During pre-season, The Reds beat VfB Stuttgart 3-0 and Blackpool 7-2. They drew 2-2 away to RB Salzburg and drew 1-1 in the Community Shield against Arsenal before losing on penalties.
It’s hard to judge how Liverpool will start this upcoming campaign but with the standard the bar has been raised to by both Jürgen Klopp’s side and Manchester City, hitting the ground running has never been more important.
Marcelo Bielsa’s Leeds won seven of their last eight Championship games in June and July to storm to a 10-point title victory and automatic promotion back to the top flight. They lost only once in their final 15 games in 2019/20 (2-0 away to Cardiff City).
The goal difference in those last eight games was 21-3 for Leeds. Bielsa’s men conceded just one goal in their final five games so they may not be as easy to break down on Saturday as some are expecting.TEAM NEWS
Liverpool Team News
Jürgen Klopp will be hoping that both Jordan Henderson and Trent Alexander-Arnold will be fit to start on Saturday. Alexander-Arnold played 86 minutes of England’s 0-0 draw in Denmark on Tuesday evening. That was his first action of the ‘pre-season’.
Kostas Tsimikas was reported to have tested positive for COVID-19 while on international duty with Greece so he won’t be appearing in a first-team squad for another week or two at least.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain suffered another knee injury in August but it’s hoped the midfielder will be available for selection again before the end of this month.
Klopp may well opt for Naby Keïta in the midfield alongside Fabinho and Henderson. Gini Wijnaldum played 90 minutes of his country’s win over Poland last Friday and again on Monday night as the Netherlands lost at home to Italy.
Keïta has been very involved during pre-season and was very much one of Liverpool’s in-form players when the 2019/20 season was being completed in June and July. Also, with all the talk of a Wijnaldum move to Barcelona, it might be best for Keita to start on Saturday.
It should be a case of business as usual in the forward line with Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mané all ready to start.
Alexander-Arnold will probably get the nod on Saturday, even if it is with the plan to substitute him off at some stage in the second half. Joe Gomez and Virgil van Dijk should partner-up in the middle of the back four with Andy Robertson in at left-back.
Leeds Team News
Kalvin Phillips is still recovering from a knee injury but he should make the starting lineup for Leeds at Anfield.
New signings Hélder Costa (from Wolves) and Jack Harrison (from Manchester City on loan) are likely to start on the right and left wings respectively.
Illan Meslier, Leeds’ 20-year-old French goalkeeper, will probably be Marcelo Bielsa’s first-choice between the sticks for the start of the season. Meslier impressed at the end of the 2019/20 campaign when he replaced the suspended Kiko Casilla as Leeds went on to win the Championship title and promotion to the Premier League.
Patrick Bamford should lead the line as the lone striker in a probable 4-1-4-1 formation for the visitors.PREDICTED LINEUPS
Liverpool XI (4-3-3) – Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Gomez, Van Dijk, Robertson; Fabinho, Henderson, Keïta; Salah, Firmino, Mané
Leeds United XI (4-1-4-1) – Meslier; Dallas, Ayling, Cooper, Douglas; Phillips; Costa, Hernández, Klich, Harrison; BamfordWHEN THEY LAST MET
The sides last met in the EFL Cup quarter-final back in November 2016. Liverpool won 2-0 at Anfield with goals from Divock Origi and youngster Ben Woodburn.
The most recent Premier League clash between the two teams was in February 2004 when they played out a 2-2 draw at Elland Road. Harry Kewell gave Liverpool the lead against his old club before Leeds responded through Eirik Bakke and Mark Viduka. Milan Baros equalised for The Reds before half-time and that was how it ended.
Leeds’ last league visit to Anfield was October 2003 when Liverpool beat them 3-1 thanks to goals from Michael Owen, Danny Murphy and Florent Sinama-Pongolle. Alan Smith scored Leeds’ consolation strike that day.PREDICTION
LIVERPOOL 2 – 1 LEEDS UNITED
Liverpool are in for a tough encounter on Saturday evening. Marcelo Bielsa’s Leeds will have done some extensive groundwork in preparation for this fixture (insert spying joke here) and will want to announce their return to the Premier League in style. Don’t be surprised if Liverpool struggle for the three points this weekend. However, any win would be a great result against such an opponent on the opening day of the season.
Venue – Wembley Stadium, London
Referee – Andre Marriner
Date & Time – Saturday, August 29th @ 16:30
Current Odds – Arsenal 4/1, Draw 3/1, Liverpool 13/20
Still no fans but it’s still the beautiful game…
Liverpool and Arsenal face off in the Community Shield on Saturday evening for the first time since The Gunners beat Gérard Houllier’s Reds 1-0 at the Millenium Stadium in August 2002.
Fans of both sides will be eager to see some ‘competitive’ action again, even though the domestic campaign finished less than a month ago with Arsenal’s FA Cup final win against Chelsea.FORM
Arsenal’s last competitive game was their impressive 2-1 win over Chelsea in the FA Cup final on August 1st. The Gunners beat MK Dons 4-1 in their only pre-season friendly of note last Tuesday.
Mikel Arteta does seem to be building some kind of stable foundations at the north London club and they’ll certainly be keen to lay down a marker against the Premier League champions on Saturday.
Liverpool’s last defeat was actually against Arsenal when Arteta’s side beat them 2-1 at the Emirates Stadium in mid-July. Jürgen Klopp’s men had already secured Premier League title success at that stage.
The Reds beat VfB Stuttgart 3-0 last Saturday and had to come from two goals behind to draw 2-2 at RB Salzburg earlier this week.TEAM NEWS
Arsenal Team News
Arsenal’s current injury-list contains Shkodran Mustafi, Pablo Marí, Gabrial Martinelli and Calum Chambers.
Arteta went with a very young squad for their recent friendly against MK Dons so it’s very difficult to predict his starting eleven for Saturday.
Arsenal may go with all guns blazing up front via Nicolas Pépé, Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.
Liverpool Team News
Jürgen Klopp is currently without Jordan Henderson, Joël Matip, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Ki-Jana Hoever and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain due to injury. Henderson and Alexander-Arnold are due to return to action shortly after the Community Shield while Matip and Oxlade-Chamberlain are hoping to be fit and available in late September.
Neco Williams is likely to play at right-back instead of Alexander-Arnold, gaining some hugely valuable first-team experience for the youngster. Virgil van Dijk is reported to be fine after his head injury against RB Salzburg so should start alongside Joe Gomez in the centre of the back four.
Klopp will probably go with a midfield trio of Fabinho, Gini Wijnaldum and Naby Keïta. Keïta displayed great form since the Premier League returned to action in June so he could be looking at a more regular place in the starting eleven this season if he can stay injury-free.
Despite Rhian Brewster’s great form in pre-season, I think Klopp will go with the usual full-strength forward line of Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mané. Brewster should get at least 30 minutes action, however.PREDICTED LINEUPS
Arsenal XI (3-4-3) – Leno; Holding, Luiz, Tierney; Soares, Elneny, Xhaka, Maitland-Niles; Pépé, Lacazette, Aubameyang
Liverpool XI (4-3-3) – Alisson; Williams, Gomez, Van Dijk, Robertson; Fabinho, Wijnaldum, Keïta; Salah, Firmino, ManéWHEN THEY LAST MET
Arsenal won 2-1 back in July against Liverpool. It’s worth noting The Reds had already won the league title by that stage, however. Sadio Mané gave Liverpool an early lead that day but goals from Alexandre Lacazette and Reiss Nelson turned it around for The Gunners before half-time.PREDICTION
ARSENAL 1 – 2 LIVERPOOL
This is certainly a game to look forward to, as most clashes with Arsenal have been in recent years. There is nearly always the guarantee of goals and a good open game. Saturday should be no different. I think Liverpool will win in a game not short on goalmouth action.