Preview: Chelsea v Liverpool

Chelsea and Liverpool will both be looking to continue their good starts to the new Premier League season when they meet at Stamford Bridge on Friday.

Premier League
16 September 2016
Kick-off: 21:00CEST/19:00GMT
Venue: Stamford Bridge

Referee: M. Atkinson
Assistants: S. Child, S. Burt
Fourth official: R. Madley

Head-to-head summary:

Chelsea: 165 57 38 70
Liverpool: 165 70 38 57

Previous encounter:

Liverpool 1-1 Chelsea 11/05/16 (Premier League)

Liverpool goalscorers: C. Benteke (90+2′)

Chelsea goalscorers: E. Hazard (32′)

Players to watch:

Chelsea seem to be back in business after their slump of last season, and that includes star attacker Eden Hazard, who has rediscovered the form that makes him one of the best players in England. Striker Diego Costa also looks to be back to his deadly best, and currently leads the scoring charts with four goals to his name already.

For Liverpool, Senegalese winger Sadio Mane brings something special to the side, and the former Southampton star already has two goals in three appearances. Adam Lallana, another former Saints player, is also finding the net for the Reds with two goals in four appearances, and will also be worth keeping an eye on.

Team form and manager quotes:

The Blues recently dropped their first points of the new campaign away to Swansea City last weekend, where a Costa brace secured a point in Wales, but it was another performance where an Antonio Conte-instilled tenacity was clearly evident, and it leaves the Londoners just two points off the pace in the early standings.

“I think Liverpool are a really good team,” said Chelsea manager Antonio Conte ahead of the match. “They play with intensity. They’ve brought in many players and I think we must pay great attention tomorrow. We know Liverpool are very strong.

“I have great difficulty in describing him but Jurgen Klopp is a good manager – one of the best in the world and I think he is also showing his capacity at Liverpool to be a great manager.

“I know him but not much. We played against each other only once during pre-season but I repeat, he is a fantastic manager. I’ll be very glad to see him tomorrow.”

After a thrilling 4-3 win over Arsenal on opening day, the subsequent 2-0 loss to Burnley had Reds fans fearing another inconsistent season. However, a draw away to Tottenham and 4-1 win over reigning champions Leicester City has the Merseyside club back in form and ready for their trip to west London.

“I’m very excited, games against Chelsea are always special things in the Premier League,” said Liverpool manager Klopp.

“They’re a strong side and they’re in a good moment. [They’re] competitive, physically strong, with the experience of last year – champions two years ago, then a difficult year – changing manager, all that stuff.

“I know about our respect for Chelsea, and I’m pretty sure it’s exactly the same from their side. They’ve seen us and they know we are not easy to play. That’s what I’ve thought about this week. There’s always a way to create moments they are not expecting.”

Team news:

For Chelsea, central defenders John Terry (foot) and Kurt Zouma (anterior cruciate ligament) are both out injured, meaning that recently-returned Brazilian defender David Luiz “will play for the first time” alongside Gary Cahill at the back. Also sidelined is Dutch midfielder Marco van Ginkel (knee).

At Liverpool, Croatian defender Dejan Lovren will return from an eye problem in time to feature, but the same can’t be said of Emre Can (ankle), Sheyi Ojo (back), and Joe Gomez (calf/shin).