Liverpool’s attempt to get their Premier League season back on track continues under the Anfield lights on Thursday nights, as Thomas Tuchel’s Chelsea rock up on Merseyside.
The Reds ended a run of four successive league defeats with victory over Sheffield United on Sunday, but there is more work to do if a season shredded by injury problems is to be salvaged with Champions League qualification.
Currently, Chelsea sit a point ahead of the reigning champions in fifth, and come into another ‘big six’ game after claiming a point against Manchester United at Stamford Bridge. With Manchester City, Manchester United and Leicester City occupying the top three places, West Ham are the team in the firing line – and victory here would be a giant step to overhauling the high-flying Hammers.
Here’s 90min’s preview of the game
When is it? Thursday 4 March
What time is kick-off? 20:15 (GMT)
Where is it being played? Anfield
TV Channel: Sky Sports Main Event (UK), Peacock Premium (US)
Referee: Craig Pawson VAR: Paul Tierney
Jurgen Klopp is hopeful Fabinho and Alisson will be available for the visit of Chelsea after both missed out against Sheffield United.
Fabinho has been struggling with a muscular complaint, while Alisson was allowed to miss the game after the sudden death of his father in a tragic accident back home in Brazil. If the pair do return, they could be joined by Diogo Jota – who has returned from injury and only missed out on playing against Chris Wilder’s Blades because he was taken ill the night before the game.
Thiago Silva remains a doubt for Chelsea, having missed the draw with Manchester United because of a thigh problem. He is, at the time of writing though, yet to be ruled out of the trip to Anfield.
There are also concerns over the fitness of Callum Hudson-Odoi after he was substituted at half-time against United – this time because of injury – he had strapping applied to his knee – rather than because of Tuchel being unhappy with his performance.
Timo Werner could return out wide, as could Marcos Alonso on the left.
Liverpool: Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Fabinho, Kabak, Robertson; Thiago, Wijnaldum, Jones; Salah, Firmino, Mane
Chelsea: Mendy; Azpilicueta, Christensen, Rudiger; James, Jorginho, Kovacic, Alonso; Ziyech, Giroud, Werner
Sheffield United 0-2 Liverpool – Premier League – 28/02
Liverpool 0-2 Everton – Premier League – 20/02
RB Leipzig 0-2 Liverpool – Champions League – 16/02
Leicester City 3-1 Liverpool – Premier League – 13/02
Liverpool 1-4 Manchester City – Premier League – 07/02
Chelsea 0-0 Manchester United – Premier League – 28/02
Atletico Madrid 0-1 Chelsea – Premier League – 23/02
Southampton 1-1 Chelsea – Premier League – 20/02
Chelsea 2-0 Newcastle United – Premier League – 15/02
Barnsley 0-1 Chelsea – Premier League – 11/02
Earlier on in the season, you’d have been forgiven for billing this game as a clash between two title chasing sides.
Instead, victory here would the pressure on both West Ham and Leicester, both of whom are enjoying exceptionally strong seasons.
Liverpool should be stronger defensively with the likely return of Fabinho and their number one goalkeeper Alisson, and although they’ve not been as formidable this season, they have a front three capable of causing Chelsea all sorts of problems.
It’s still very early in Thomas Tuchel’s Chelsea reign, and it’s evident that the players are still adapting to the system he wants to implement. Defensively, things have improved and their is a more definitive shape, but that solidity has seen the goals column take a bit of a hit.
Big games this season have tended to be close, cagey affairs, and there’s no reason to think that this will be full of goals – in fact, there may not be any at all.
Prediction: Liverpool 0-0 Chelsea