Chelsea v Liverpool | Oppo Insight | Lukaku To Be Dropped?

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By Daniel Ghorbal

With ongoing circumstances constantly putting the availability of players and staff at risk, games of this calibre are hard to judge prior to the game.

In recent hours, Jurgen Klopp has tested positive and will therefore miss the game at Stamford Bridge. Likewise, Klopp confirmed in his press conference that three players, as well as Thiago and Minamino will miss the trip to the capital. After Manchester City extended the gap to 12 points, victory here is imperative for Liverpool to keep up the pace at the top of the Premier League.

Chelsea will feel a similar way ahead of this 2nd vs 3rd battle, knowing that a loss against the reds would all but rule them out of the title race. Although Liverpool’s defeat against Leicester was a huge blow, it was a rare blip in what has mostly been a faultless few months, whereas Chelsea have been dropping points several times, notably to Brighton, Everton, West Ham and Wolves.

The recent 1-1 draw with Brighton was one whereby Chelsea cannot have any complaints. Understandably, Tuchel’s side looked leggy throughout and were taken advantage of by a spirited Brighton display. The manner of the equaliser could be critical for Chelsea’s momentum though, a Danny Welbeck header in the 93rd minute singing Chelsea hearts.

In addition to the dropped points, Reece James critically went off with an injury which will rule him out of this game against Liverpool and beyond that. Adding to the injury fellow wingback Chilwell suffered recently, these are mighty blows for Tuchel in areas whereby the two aforementioned Englishmen have excelled this season.

The way his side play gets the best out of the wing-backs, getting the ball constantly in high and expansive areas. Against Liverpool, it is likely that Azpilicueta and Alonso will start in these positions, perhaps looking to nullify the attacking threats of Mane and Salah respectively. Ultimately, stopping Liverpool from scoring is the main aim for Chelsea as a starting point, knowing that as the game grows on the more determined they will be to hold on to the clean sheet.

Going forward, Chelsea have been patchy to say the least, but in recent weeks the threat of Mason Mount and Romelu Lukaku has really highlighted their qualities as individuals. Mounts’ dynamism and sharpness paired with the sheer power and clinical nature of Lukaku has seen them score more than usual, however controversy has been stirred with a recent Lukaku interview stating how he is unhappy with the way things are at Chelsea.

At such a crucial stage of the season, this is not what the club needs at all and fans are very unhappy with the way Romelu has dealt with things. The interview with Sky Italia also implied that he is massively missing Inter Milan, perhaps a dig at Tuchel and the way he has been playing at Chelsea. One counter point to this is that the interview was conducted three weeks ago, and since then Lukaku has chipped in with 2 goals and an assist, so for Chelsea’s sake the hope is that things will be resolved internally so everyone can progress peacefully.

With the game occurring just days before a big League Cup semi final clash with Tottenham, Tuchel will be looking to avoid defeat as a bare minimum. Although title hopes are already fading by the week, there is still a chance teams above Chelsea can slip up, but losing at home to both City and Liverpool simply would not help their cause.

If they can prevent Liverpool from seeing large spells of the ball in dangerous areas then there is every chance they can hit the reds on the counter, Mount, Hudson-Odoi and Lukaku etc. will know that chances will prevent themselves going forward.

The atmosphere at Stamford Bridge will undoubtedly be raucous for this New Years clash, and the manner of Manchester City’s form suggests that this could be a spectacular end to end affair, with neither side settling for a point.

Chelsea predicted XI: Mendy, Azpilicueta, Chalobah, Christensen, Rudiger, Jorginho, Kante, Mount, Hudson-Odoi, Lukaku

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