The Super Sunday EPL duel between Chelsea and Liverpool is one of the most interesting European league matches this weekend. Both teams go into the match with their own calculations and the match could prove to be somewhat decisive in the EPL title race.
These two clubs already met in the European Super Cup final and on that occasion Liverpool triumphed after the match went to penalties. Frank Lampard will hope that the result is different in this one, but it has to be said that Liverpool are currently head and shoulders above their Sunday opponents and that Lampard’s wishes might not come to fruition.
Both Chelsea and Liverpool come into this match after playing mid-week Champions League matches. Both teams lost their European encounters so it is understandable that they will go into this match trying to forget those defeats and only remember their EPL form.
This is because both Chelsea and Liverpool played excellent matches in the fifth round of the EPL. Chelsea were particularly impressive and defeated Wolves with a scoreline which no one could have predicted.
The Blues entered the match at the Molineux as slight favourites, but managed to surpass that tag by playing the best 90 minutes since Lampard is their manager and defeating Nuno Espirito Santo’s side 5-2.
What was particularly pleasing for Chelsea fans in that match was the performance of their former academy players. All Chelsea goals came courtesy of players who have grown through Chelsea’s youth ranks as Tammy Abraham scored a hat-trick and Mason Mount and Fikayo Tomori added one goal each.
Tomori’s opener is arguably the most beautiful goal of the season so far and considering that this was the youngster’s first Chelsea goal he will surely remember the match at the Molineux fondly for the rest of his life.
Tammy Abraham – Chelsea’s Real Number 9
The curse of the number 9 jersey is something that Chelsea fans are well aware of unfortunately. Players such as Fernando Torres, Alvaro Morata, Gonzalo Higuain, Radamel Falcao, Franco Di Santo, Mateja Kezman and even defender Khalid Boulahrouz wore the now infamous jersey and all of them failed to play to the maximum of their potential in that jersey.
The last player to have justified wearing the number 9 jersey was probably Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink in the early 2000s. However, that seems likely to change now that Tammy Abraham has the 9 on his back.
The young English striker with Nigerian roots started the season slowly and even missed the crucial penalty in that shootout in the final of the Super Cup against Liverpool. That slow start did not waver his confidence though and his last three EPL performances are some of the best in the number 9 role that Chelsea fans have seen since Diego Costa left the club.
Abraham scored two consecutive braces prior to that hat-trick meaning that he has scored 7 goals in his last 3 EPL matches. This insane return is bound to make Liverpool fans scared, but it is fair to say that they have their own star players too.
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In-Form Mane and Salah
Two of Liverpool’s best performers right now are definitely Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah. Both players have scored 4 EPL goals each and have provided 3 assists between them.
Both of them got on the score sheet in Liverpool’s last match against Newcastle last Saturday, with Mane scoring two and playing particularly well. In fact, either one or both of Salah and Mane have scored a goal in the EPL in all matches so far.
The fact that Mane and Salah have lots of quality is nothing new, but both of them hitting peak form at the same time should be a cause for concern for all of their rivals including Chelsea.
They have been the biggest forces in driving Liverpool to a five match winning run at the start of the season and the Reds are the only team with a 100% win-to-match ratio right now. More importantly, Klopp’s side is now 5 points clear at the top of the table after Manchester City lost away to Norwich.
This means that the 2019/2020 season might finally be Liverpool’s season and they might finally win that much coveted EPL title.
One thing which should worry both of these teams is the fact that they suffered important mid-week defeats in the Champions League. Chelsea lost at home to Valencia while the Reds lost their difficult away meeting with Napoli.
Frank Lampard’s men were expected to defeat a Valencia team which was said to be in turmoil, but failed in doing so. Ross Barkley missed a penalty late on in the match to put the teams level, but other than that the Blues didn’t create much in terms of goal scoring chances.
The fact that Valencia came into the match with a new manager after their previous manager, the accomplished Marcelino was sacked, meant that the Blues had somewhat of an advantage.
The morale in Chelsea’s camp was as high as ever, especially after that convincing victory against Wolves and the performances of their academy players. In contrast, Valencia players were said to be fuming because their beloved manager under whom they achieved more than was expected from them was sacked in such acrimonious circumstances.
However, all of that turned out to be largely irrelevant as Valencia looked much more compact than Chelsea. Their new boss, Albert Celades, had a plan and his players executed it perfectly.
Liverpool lost their mid-week match too, but in somewhat different circumstances. One thing which grated Liverpool fans particularly in their match against Napoli was the non-existent penalty which was awarded to Ancelotti’s men even after VAR was consulted.
Video replays showed that Jose Callejon dived for the penalty which Dries Mertens converted, but that was not how the referee felt during the match.
New Napoli signing Fernando Llorente put the icing on the cake for the Neapolitans and concluded Liverpool’s first defeat of the new season.
And while defeats are always hard to take, this one was taken surprisingly lightly by Liverpool fans and, by the looks of it, by Klopp and his players too. Their reasoning was probably that a Napoli away trip will be difficult for any team in Europe and if a team can lose somewhere and not feel bad about it afterwards then Neapol is definitely one of those places.
This rings especially true when you consider that Liverpool are in one of the easiest Champions League groups and should progress to the knockout stage without much trouble. In fact, this defeat might turn out to be a blessing in disguise for Liverpool’s EPL chances too. They will get that defeat out of their system and will know that they have to work much harder not to suffer the same thing in the Premier League.
Six out of Six
This all points in one direction and that is that Liverpool will win this match. The Reds are much more mature and stable than the Blues and are playing at the peak of their powers.
And while Chelsea away is always a difficult fixture, this might be the perfect time to go there. The Blues suffered a much more serious CL defeat since their group is much tougher to qualify from and Liverpool will be fully focused on not repeating their Napoli mistakes again.
Chelsea might get where Liverpool is right now, but that will not happen until at least a couple of seasons from now. Lampard’s team is pretty much a work in progress and cannot match Liverpool in neither character nor quality of performances.
When you also factor in that the Blues will likely be without several first team players for this match, the job suddenly seems much harder. Players such as Mason Mount, Antonio Rudiger, Emerson, Kante and long term absentees Hudson-Odoi, Loftus-Cheek, and Reece James are definitely out for the Liverpool encounter and that is one more reason why Klopp’s men should be backed to win this one.