Liverpool and Chelsea are set to lock horns in the third round of the Carabao Cup on Wednesday, with the Reds hosting Maurizio Sarri & co. at Anfield.
Liverpool have started the 2018-19 campaign with a blitz. While the Premier League has been routine for them up until now, their 3-2 win over PSG in the Champions League opener is sure to stamp their authority on the European scene and send a warning shot that the Reds are here not just to attempt to emulate last season’s performance, but go one better.
Chelsea have had a similarly impressive start. The Blues were the only team to match Liverpool’s perfect record in the Premier League up until the last weekend, wherein they were held to a 0-0 draw at West Ham United. Maurizio Sarri has already hinted that the fixtures are coming thick and fast, which might compel him to rotate and rest players.
Liverpool were handed a shock defeat by Leicester City in the third round itself last season. Chelsea on the other hand, made it all the way to the semi-finals, losing to arch-rivals Arsenal over two legs.
Ahead of their latest meeting, we take a closer look at the two sides.
Team News & Tactics
Simon Mignolet will start on Wednesday in what is the only confirmed change Jurgen Klopp highlighted during the pre-match conference, with Alisson Becker set to be rested. The Reds do have a slight advantage, having played on Saturday compared to Chelsea, which could mean fewer changes to the starting lineup.
Alberto Moreno could be afforded a rare start on the left, with Andrew Robertson likely to be jaded after playing week-in-week-out. Dejan Lovren is now fit and should come into the lineup. But, surprisingly, it could be Joel Matip to give way, despite many pointing to the possibility of Virgil Van Dijk being rested.
Nathaniel Clyne can finally get a look-in after what has been a thunderous start to the season from Trent Alexander-Arnold.
Naby Keita and Fabinho should come into the lineup alongside Georginio Wijnaldum. The fans would be excited to finally see Fabinho come back into the fold after spending most of his time on the bench so far.
Mohamed Salah could be rested as he flew to attend FIFA’s The Best award and may not be in the starting eleven. Daniel Sturridge has shown signs of form and could come into the fold. Sturridge should be joined by Xherdan Shaqiri, who was brought off at half-time by Jurgen Klopp.
There could have been more changes. But, the manager hinted at the opposite, citing that he team to take the field will be a strong eleven.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Mignolet; Clyne, Lovren, Van Dijk, Moreno; Fabinho, Keita, Wijnaldum; Shaqiri, Sturridge, Mane
Maurizio Sarri could name an eerily similar side to the one that earned a narrow 1-0 win over PAOK last midweek. Wily Caballero should start in goal, with Davide Zappacosta and Emerson Palmieri coming into the wide defence. Gary Cahill looked fit and should partner Andreas Christensen at the heart of the back four.
The entire midfield three could also change, with none from Kante, Jorginho and Kovacic managing to impress on Sunday. Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Ethan Ampadu might be called into the starting eleven in a chance for them to impress the manager. Ross Barkley has looked bright in his last couple of outings and should be third man starting in midfield.
Gianfranco Zola though, has confirmed that Loftus-Cheek will not be in the starting lineup, owing to a fresh injury. Cesc Fabregas should start in his stead.
Alvaro Morata will likely be given another chance to show that his current profligate displays is merely a phase. Callum Hudson-Odoi could be a surprise call-up while Victor Moses will be another fringe player to be given a rare start on Wednesday.
Sarri has, during his days at Napoli, shown a penchant or desire to play second-string squads in cup competitions he is uninterested in and the same could be the case against Liverpool in the Carabao Cup.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Caballero; Zappacosta, Cahill, Christensen, Emerson; Fabregas, Ampadu, Barkley; Moses, Morata, Hudson-Odoi
1. Liverpool are the most coveted team in the competition, now known as the Carabao Cup, having won the trophy a record eight times.
2. Chelsea have played out a 1-1 draw against Liverpool on each of their last three visits to Anfield.
3. The last eight Chelsea managers have avoided defeats in their first match in the competition (W7,D1), with Claudio Ranieri being the last victim to taste defeat.
4. Liverpool have not exited the competition from the Third Round in succession since 1990-91.
5. Liverpool have won only 2 of their last 14 matches against Chelsea in all competitions (D7,L5). Liverpool’s two wins came at Stamford Bridge.
Player To Watch
The Swiss speedster received a lot of flak for his 45 minutes against Southampton, which saw Jurgen Klopp substitute him before the start of the second half. Shaqiri had iterated that he rejected other offers for Liverpool. So far, he has not managed to get a proper look-in where as at other top clubs that were targeting him – Manchester United – he could have been a starter by now.
But, fixture congestion and Mohamed Salah’s potential unavailability could see Xherdan Shaqiri retain his spot, albeit in the advanced spaces he loves to receive the ball in.
Chelsea are expected to name a rather second-string side and we could see Shaqiri come into his own on Wednesday, proving his credentials.
Liverpool 3-1 Chelsea
Not much should be taken from this fixture. But, Jurgen Klopp will be intent on continuing the momentum gained from the fast start. Another thing that will motivate Klopp is the lack of trophies during his time at Liverpool. The manager will be hoping to avoid successive third round exits from the competition.
Maurizio Sarri will unlikely be bothered by the result and will use the fixture to evaluate the youngsters and fringe players he has at his disposal. Expect a comfortable Liverpool win.