Chelsea’s significant summer spending spree has resulted in some people tipping them to challenge for Liverpool’s crown this season, and today’s match against the champions at Stamford Bridge will be an early opportunity to show if they’re up for a title challenfe.
Many of Chelsea’s new arrivals did not feature against Brighton and will not be ready again in time for this contest, with German internationals Timo Werner and Kai Havertz the only players to be handed their debuts.
Frank Lampard will be confident that the duo could wreak havoc if Liverpool allow them as much space as they allowed Leeds, and it was less than two months ago that Chelsea visited Anfield and scored three times before heavily bolstering their attacking ranks.
Of course, the problem in that most recent meeting between the two sides was that they conceded five times, and defence remains the great concern for the Blues going into the new season.
The imminent arrival of Edouard Mendy could help in that respect, with Kepa Arrizabalaga again not covering himself in glory for Brighton’s equalising goal at the Amex.
Had Lewis Dunk’s goalscoring radar also been working then Monday’s contest could have easily ended differently for Chelsea, and Lampard will warn his side that Liverpool will not be so merciful in front of goal.
However, victory over the champions would be an early statement of intent for their season and, having become only the third club to pass the 2,000-point mark in the Premier League on Monday night, they will fancy their chances of adding to that tally in upcoming games against West Bromwich Albion, Crystal Palace and Southampton too.
Having watched the early game-of-the-season contender at Anfield on the opening weekend, Lampard will at least be confident of creating chances against a Liverpool defence which, although the best in the league last term, has looked far less impenetrable recently.
Since ending their 30-year wait for the title back in June, the Reds have shipped 15 goals in their eight Premier League games – as many as they had conceded in their previous 23 prior to that.
Some of that can perhaps be attributed to taking their foot off the pedal having won the title with seven games to spare, but the new season has hinted at those same problems – they surrendered the lead on three separate occasions against Leeds, while even in pre-season they fell 2-0 down to both Red Bull Salzburg and Blackpool due to a disorganised backline.
Liverpool will know better than anyone what damage Werner could do if that is the case again, having scouted him intensively before ultimately deciding against a move due to the financial implications of lockdown.
he arrival of Thiago Alcantara will sate the Liverpool fans’ desire for a big-name signing, though, and even without the treble-winning Spain international the Reds would still have fancied their chances of outscoring most teams as they did against Leeds.