Match Preview

PRE-MATCH BRIEFING: CHELSEA vs LIVERPOOL


There is the longer wait until late Sunday afternoon for league action this weekend, but it should be a big match worth waiting for. Club historian Rick Glanvill and club statistician Paul Dutton preview our first hosting of one of the ‘big-six’ sides this season…

This weekend’s battle between sixth and first in the Premier League is the 61st meeting between Chelsea and Liverpool in all competitions since April 2000, making it the most played match-up between English sides of the 21st century.

For decades, whether in London or Liverpool, it was a fixture that favoured the home team. The Blues came largely to dominate league encounters in the 2010s, going eight games without loss, but have enjoyed just one victory in the past nine top-flight meetings (five draws, three defeats).

This is also the fifth clash of the top six clubs this season and the second for both clubs (the third in all competitions after last month’s UEFA Super Cup clash in Monaco).
 

Top six Premier League matches 2019/20
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Manchester United110043
Liverpool100023
Tottenham202002
Manchester City101001
Arsenal2011-21
Chelsea1001-40

However, the Blues are undefeated in our last six such games at the Bridge, winning four and drawing two since a 1-3 loss to Spurs in April 2018. As a player for Chelsea, Frank Lampard won 18, drew eight and lost 13 games against the Reds, scoring seven times.
 

Chelsea have beaten the team that started the day top of the Premier League on 18 occasions – three more than any other side.

photo of Key Stat Key Stat

Chelsea’s games of two halves

Lampard’s men are currently one of six sides (including Tottenham, Manchester United and Arsenal) locked together on eight points. Yet if referees had ended each match of the 2019/20 season at half-time, Chelsea would sit fourth in the league table (behind Liverpool and the Manchester clubs) on 10 points with a plus-five goal difference. The Blues would also lie second in Champions League Group H, having pipped Liverpool to the UEFA Super Cup back in August thanks to an Olivier Giroud winner.

HIGHLIGHTS: Chelsea v Liverpool - Super Cup Final (N)

Alas! In reality there has been a Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde quality to the Londoners’ performances either side of the break – a mirror image in terms of wins and goals for and against, and the biggest differential of any top-flight club.
 

Chelsea in the first 45      
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Chelsea in the second 45      
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Chelsea’s goals-against record may be the second highest in the top flight so far this season but the league leaders Liverpool have managed just one clean sheet too. Promisingly, the Londoners have failed to score in just one of our past 20 meetings with the Merseysiders, the 0-2 away defeat last season.

On another positive note for the Blues, only Liverpool and Manchester City have scored more than us as a team, and 13 clubs have registered fewer than the seven hit by leading marksman Tammy Abraham.

In fact, since his Super Cup penalty shoot-out miss against Sunday’s visitors, the 21-year-old has amassed as many league goals as all five players who took one for the Merseysiders: Trent Alexander-Arnold, Fabinho, Roberto Firmino (two), Divock Origi (one) and Mohamed Salah (four).
 

Carabao Cup and Champions League catch-up

On Thursday Grimsby Town sold out their 5,118 ticket allocation for our Carabao Cup round three rendezvous at the Bridge. This weekend the Mariners host Macclesfield – the team they defeated to set up Wednesday’s trip to west London.

Chelsea’s next Champions League opponents, Lille, will play three league games before our visit to Stade Pierre-Mauroy on Wednesday 2 October: top six clubs Rennes and Nice away, and struggling Strasbourg at home.
 

Former Blues boss Carlo Ancelotti sets a blueprint?

This week Liverpool became the first current holders of the Champions League trophy to be beaten in the opening match of their defence since AC Milan in September 1994. The mastermind behind the 2-0 victory on a hot and sticky night in southern Italy was former Blues boss Carlo Ancelotti.
The man who steered Chelsea to the Premier League and FA Cup Double in 2010 explained his team’s approach, though it is not one every side is equipped to follow.

‘The strategy was to play a complete game,’ he said. ‘High pressure if possible, but also defending deeper if needed.’ Ancelotti set his Azzurri up in a 4-4-2 formation, with his widemen and front two forcing errors from Virgil van Dijk and company, and Kalidou Koulibaly reacting swiftly to snuff out danger.
 

Napoli's Kalidou Koulibaly defending against Liverpool's Roberto Firmino

Central midfielder Fabinho was arguably the best performer on the night for the visitors, for whom Adrian continues to deputise in goal, while Roberto Firmino remains the man who makes the Reds’ attacking quartet tick.

Sadio Mane’s home record

Some media recently were keen to hail Reds’ forward Sadio Mane as a record-breaker for featuring in 50 Premier League games unbeaten at Anfield, but that statistic does not tell the full story. Mane’s run is the best without defeat from the start of a career for someone never yet to have lost there. A host of others have gone longer undefeated on their own ground before they eventually suffered a loss, with Chelsea players actually packing out the top spots on several criteria.

Run of Premier League games unbeaten at specific stadium at any time
Didier DrogbaStamford Bridge80
Joe ColeStamford Bridge77
Frank LampardStamford Bridge77
John TerryStamford Bridge73
Michael EssienStamford Bridge68
Petr CechStamford Bridge60
Claude MakeleleStamford Bridge60
Lee SharpeOld Trafford59
Ricardo CarvalhoStamford Bridge54
Mathieu FlaminiEmirates53
Paulo FerreiraStamford Bridge53

NB Includes matches played as a visiting player
 

Run of Premier League games unbeaten at specific stadium from start of career
Didier DrogbaStamford Bridge80
Michael EssienStamford Bridge68
Petr CechStamford Bridge60
Lee SharpeOld Trafford59
Ricardo CarvalhoStamford Bridge54
Mathieu FlaminiEmirates53
Paulo FerreiraStamford Bridge53
Joleon LescottEtihad52
Sadio ManeAnfield50
Darren PeacockSt. James’ Park45

The Merseysiders have also racked up 43 games at Anfield without loss. That puts them halfway towards matching Chelsea’s remarkable record of 86 unbeaten across 1,462 days stretched over four years at the Bridge. It was a deflected shot from Liverpool’s Xabi Alonso that finally ended the Blues’ run in October 2008.

Ajax clean up at home in Group H

Ajax, last season’s semi-finalists, lead Group H in the Champions League after beating Lille 3-0. The French side squandered goalscoring opportunities but were often under siege against the hosts’ inventive front four, in a high-tempo, open game. The outcome may have been different had the VAR not overlooked a penalty area shirt-tug on the visitors’ lively striker Victor Osimhen.
 

First use of Video Assistant Referee in the group stage

It was a tale of two VARs on Tuesday evening in the Champions League for Sunday’s combatants. While Cuneyt Cakir was asked to review a possible award of a penalty to Chelsea for illegal handling by Daniel Wass, the referee’s decision to penalise Liverpool’s Andy Robertson for an 18-yard area foul on Napoli’s Jose Callejon was upheld after a review.
 

In the Premier League, referees’ boss Mike Riley has admitted four VAR review mistakes so far – none of them involving Chelsea, not even Marco Stiepermann’s kick on Cesar Azpilicueta in the penalty area.


Premier League fixtures

Friday
Southampton v Bournemouth 8pm (Sky)

Saturday
Leicester v Tottenham 12.30pm (BT)
Burnley v Norwich 3pm
Everton v Sheffield United 3pm
Manchester City v Watford 3pm
Newcastle v Brighton 5.30pm (Sky)

Sunday
Crystal Palace v Wolves 2pm
West Ham v Manchester United 2pm (Sky)
Arsenal v Aston Villa 4.30pm
Chelsea v Liverpool 4.30pm (Sky)
 

Premier League - top half

Premier League 2019/2020
1Liverpool55001541115
2Manchester City53111661010
3Tottenham Hotspur522111658
4Manchester United52218448
5Leicester City52216428
6Chelsea5221111108
7Arsenal52218808
8West Ham United522167-18
9Bournemouth521289-17
10Southampton521256-17

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