PL Preview: Chelsea vs. Liverpool

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  • Chelsea will make late calls on Pedro (shoulder), Andreas Christensen (illness), Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Antonio Rudiger ahead of Saturday evening’s match. 
  • Liverpool duo Trent Alexander-Arnold (illness) and Georginio Wijnaldum (knock) are available. Defender Virgil Van Dijk is doubtful with a rib injury. 
  • Liverpool are looking to win their first seven matches of a top-flight campaign for only the second time, after doing so in 1990/91. Chelsea are the only side to win their opening seven PL fixtures, in 2005/06.
  • Chelsea can claim consecutive home Premier League victories over Liverpool for the first time since a run of three wins between October 2004 and September 2006. 

Liverpool puts its 100 percent record on the line Saturday as it faces a rematch with Chelsea at Stamford Bridge (Watch live, 12:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com) just three days after the Blues topped the Reds, 2-1 in comeback style in the Carabao Cup.

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With Liverpool leading 1-0 at Anfield on Wednesday, Chelsea hit the knockout blow after goals from Emerson and Eden Hazard to give the Reds a setback. However, it’s the matchup on Saturday that really matters in the Premier League title push, with Liverpool looking to stay on top. However, it will be that much tougher without the defensive talisman that is Virgil Van Dijk, who is doubtful for the game.

Maurizio Sarri has transformed Chelsea from a direct side to one who dominates and passes through the midfield. Will Liverpool have a better idea of how to counter that after seeing it just a few days ago? Or will Hazard rise to the challenge yet again on the road?


What they’re saying

Chelsea manager Maurizio Sarri on if Eden Hazard is currently the world’s best player: “Maybe, I don’t know. He is for sure one of the best, but I am absolutely convinced he can improve. If he is able to improve during training, maybe he will be able to use himself at 100 per cent. We have seen only 70, 75, 80 per cent of his potential. If he is able to improve he will be the best in the world. It’s very difficult to compare him with other players. He is a genius. He is unique. Technically I think he is the best, and so I want him to be the best in the world.”

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp on possibly opening a 5-point lead in the table: “I don’t think in these categories because it is difficult enough to try and win the game, or even to get a point at Chelsea. So, I don’t think about a five-point gap – and a five-point gap 31 matchdays before the end [of the season] is nothing. We play them again, so it is absolutely nothing. It’s only about getting points for our account. I thought the Chelsea game [in midweek] was just an unbelievably interesting game, in the analysis as well. We needed time to adapt, yes. We had a new formation, yes, and without the ball, against the ball in defending, it’s a little bit more complicated than with the ball.”

Prediction

If Virgil Van Dijk is out, expect Chelsea to whip a lot of balls into the box, seeing if either Olivier Giroud or Alvaro Morata can get on the end of them. This game should have end-to-end action with plenty of goals, but we think both sides will share the spoils. Chelsea 2-2 Liverpool