In what is one of the most awaited fixtures of the domestic leagues in Europe, Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool take on Frank Lampard’s Chelsea on Sunday in the Premier League. The Reds fell to a defeat against Napoli in the Champions League while Chelsea fell prey to a rigid Valencia side in the same competition earlier this week.
Both teams produced a couple of thrilling encounters in the league last season but Liverpool managed to beat The Blues in the Super Cup final earlier this season. Chelsea have a squad full of youngsters who have been impressive in the last few games in the league but Liverpool’s star-studded squad have won each of their five games so far this season. Here are three key battles that could decide the outcome of this game:
Mohamed Salah vs Marcos Alonso/Emerson
The Egyptian international has three goals and an assist in the last three league games and has been productive against Chelsea in his time in Red. He will believe that he can get the better of Marcos Alonso, who is more suited to a wing-back role.
Frank Lampard could yet use the 3-4-3 system like against Wolves but that would leave Salah with space between the full-back and centre-back to attack. Alonso has his work cut out in this game and has to curb his attacking instincts as adding stability to his backline will be crucial for the hosts to take anything from this game.
Tammy Abraham vs Virgil van Dijk
Though Chelsea’s Christian Pulisic was expected to top the scoring charts in England, it is their young striker Tammy Abraham who is stealing the headlines. After an impressive loan spell last season, the 21-year-old now has seven goals in just four league starts this season, including a hat-trick last weekend.
However, he will face the toughest task till now leading the attack for Chelsea when he faces Liverpool’s wall Virgil van Dijk in this game. The duo faced off earlier in the season in Istanbul where Abraham was left frustrated. Chelsea need to make sure that their striker has enough chances to hurt the Liverpool defender, to try and test Adrian on goal.
Sadio Mane vs Cesar Azpilicueta
While Salah has made a decent start to the campaign, his partner in crime, Mane, has been even more impressive. He scored a brace to help Liverpool win the UEFA Super Cup and has netted three goals in his last two league games. The work rate of Roberto Firmino and Andrew Robertson will allow Mane to play on Azpilicueta’s shoulder and this is a battle can produce some of the best moments in this tie. The Spaniard’s experience at the back will be crucial for Chelsea but Mane’s form will be a real threat to Kepa Arrizabalaga in goal.