After hugely disappointing campaigns for both Chelsea and Liverpool last season, a fixture that would normally have a Premier League (PL) aura around it may instead be plagued by a nervy energy, as both sets of fans await what version of their team will emerge from last season’s ashes. Chelsea have arguably taken the greater leaps in making the necessary changes needed, with much optimism surrounding the appointment of Mauricio Pochettino as manager and the seemingly full squad overhaul that took place in the summer, which might still see the addition of Moisés Caicedo from Brighton who has been the subject of a transfer tug-of- war with Liverpool.
If improvement is the board’s expectation of Pochettino, then the bar isn’t set too high considering finishing 14th in the second ever PL season in 1993/94 was the only time they’ve placed lower than last season’s 12th. Looking at how they closed out their league season it’s no wonder the Blues’ season was so blue, winning only once in their last 12 PL matches (D4, L7).
One of those draws was the most recent match between these sides, where a 0-0 draw saw them share the spoils for a fourth consecutive league H2H. But whereas that formed part of a poor run for Chelsea, it kickstarted a spirited end to Liverpool’s season, going on to remain undefeated in their final 11 games of the season (W7, D4).
Utilising that momentum while going through a squad rebuild will be challenging for manager Jürgen Klopp, who saw his captain Jordan Henderson and other key players Fabinho, Roberto Firmino, and James Milner depart in the summer. The travelling Reds fans will hope new signings Dominik Szoboszlai and Alexis Mac Allister will be off to fast starts, much like Liverpool themselves who haven’t lost an opening PL fixture across the last ten seasons (W8, D2).
Players to watch: The Stamford Bridge crowd will be hoping for an immediate impact from new signing Nicolas Jackson, who scored ten of his 12 La Liga goals at home last season for Villarreal. Meanwhile, yet more history beckons for Liverpool’s regular record-breaker Mohamed Salah, as a goal here against his former employers would make him the PL’s highest scorer on the opening day with nine.
Hot stat: Chelsea have lost their opening PL match only five times in their history (W20, D6).
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