Chelsea v Liverpool preview: Early-season clash between unbeaten title contenders

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Premier League leaders Liverpool face unbeaten Chelsea for the second time this week in an early-season clash between two title contenders at Stamford Bridge.

Jurgen Klopp’s side have won their opening six top-flight fixtures this season, but lost 2-1 to Chelsea in the Carabao Cup on Wednesday evening and travel to London ahead of a daunting week.

Liverpool will travel to Napoli in the Champions League in midweek before facing champions Manchester City next Sunday and Klopp is under no illusions as to the difficulty of the task facing his players.

He said: “Before we started it was clear that a game against Chelsea at Chelsea will not be a children’s birthday or whatever, that’s pretty intense.

“Then we go to Naples which is a tough place to go and then Man City coming. It’s an interesting month, to be honest. But so far, so good and the boys are fully in it and ready to go.”

Chelsea’s 100% league record ended in a 0-0 draw with West Ham last Sunday and while victory on Saturday evening would move them above Liverpool, a defeat would see them fall five points behind their opponents.

Andreas Christensen should be fit after shaking off a stomach bug.

However, Antonio Rudiger, Pedro and Ruben Loftus-Cheek will all be given late fitness tests ahead of the Stamford Bridge encounter.

Rudiger (groin), Pedro (shoulder) and Loftus Cheek (shin) must still prove their fitness, but are all back in training.

Defender Virgil van Dijk is a doubt for Liverpool after picking up an injury against Southampton last weekend.

The Netherlands international has missed training all week and Klopp will make a late decision on whether he will be involved at Stamford Bridge.

Trent Alexander-Arnold and Georginio Wijnaldum, however, are both available for selection after the pair returned to full training after missing the midweek cup defeat.

Opta stats

  •   Liverpool have only lost more Premier League games versus Manchester United (28) than against Chelsea (20).
  • Liverpool are looking to win their first seven games to a top-flight campaign for only the second time.
  • The only side to win their opening seven games to a Premier League campaign were Chelsea in 2005/06.
  • Liverpool have only won one of their last eight away Premier League games against fellow ‘big six’ opponents.
  • Olivier Giroud has scored five goals in his last six Premier League starts against Liverpool.
  •   Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp has won two of his three Premier League away games against Chelsea.
  •   Liverpool duo Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane have created more chances for each other than any other pair in the Premier League so far this season (10).

This will be a very intriguing game. You’ve got Eden Hazard who you could see on Wednesday is the best of the best at the moment without a doubt but you’ve still got the big boys to come back for Liverpool like Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino and the back four.

I don’t think Chelsea will have a psychological edge, Liverpool rested their back four and it will be completely different from Wednesday. I thought Chelsea were outstanding in the first half but Liverpool got back into it and it will give them confidence to say ‘right, we can break them down’.

But it was like a boxing match, no one was really showing their hand until Hazard came on and you’re thinking ‘how do you stop him?’. I think Liverpool will be more than happy with a 1-1 draw, that would be a great result for them.

I think Hazard is the best player in the Premier League by a long way. I don’t think anyone can do what he does and that’s what makes him better than everyone else in my opinion. On Wednesday, he beat three players, passed it, got it back and then beat two more players before smashing it in the corner. For me, no one else can do that in the Premier League. There are players who can go past people but they haven’t got that end product he’s got.

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