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Chelsea face Liverpool in explosive battle

CHELSEA and Liverpool meet at Stamford Bridge on Sunday afternoon after a pair of disappointing results on Tuesday.

Both teams lost in the Champions League, with Frank Lampard’s side falling 1-0 at home to Valencia while Jurgen Klopp witnessed his team lose in controversial fashion away to Napoli.

Hardly disastrous, mind, seeing as Liverpool also lost in Naples last season and went on to lift the big-eared trophy for a sixth time.

With just five Premier League matches completed, Liverpool are seven points clear of their Sunday opponents.

Klopp’s side have picked up where they left off, boasting a 100 per cent record so far in the league and having already built a five-point lead over Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City.

Chelsea, who have significantly lesser aims than Liverpool, have had an up-and-down start to the season under Lampard.

The Blues are in a transitional year after a summer transfer ban. Lampard has given plenty of minutes to youngsters with Mason Mount, Fikayo Tomori and Tammy Abraham all starring.

Mount is expected to miss out this weekend however, while N’Golo Kante, Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Callum Hudson-Odoi and Reece James are all still unavailable.

Tuesday night’s clumsily handled situation with Ross Barkley’s missed penalty should be in the past by the time this match kicks off, luckily for Lampard.

Barkley could be in line for a start if Lampard looks to add another midfielder in Mount’s absence.

Despite defeat against Valencia, Chelsea are expected to stick with the 3-4-2-1 that has seen their defensive play improve and Antonio Rudiger could return to the eleven after tweaking his ankle last weekend.

Chelsea will need their best defensive performance of the season if they are to avoid defeat at Stamford Bridge this weekend.

Liverpool have found the net 15 times in their first five matches of the season.

Sadio Mane has been superb so far this term. Operating from the left against the out-of-form Cesar Azpilicueta, the Senegalese international looks a cracking bet to open the scoring.

Liverpool are primed to win the title with Manchester City in the midst of a defensive injury crisis. Liverpool’s own defence has not been at the same level as last season.

While that is hardly alarm bells time, there have been signs of vulnerability for a team that conceded just 22 league goals last season. Despite some good shot-stopping from Adrian, Alisson has been missed. Trent Alexander-Arnold still has a lot of work to do.

With Chelsea’s attack funnelling towards man of the moment Tammy Abraham, his duel with Virgil van Dijk will go a long way to deciding the match.

Abraham has been on fire so far this season; his movement in the final third is superb, he is a handful in the air and he has got the pace to run in behind.

These two teams might not be directly competing this season, but this should still be a tense affair at Stamford Bridge as arguably England’s biggest club face their toughest task of the season to date.

Liverpool will likely be just two points ahead of Manchester City by the time this kicks off. Chelsea need to keep pace with Manchester United and Arsenal in the race for fourth and will be keen to put a frustrating midweek defeat behind them.

Klopp’s heavy metal football meets the frenetic movable object of Lampard’s Chelsea.

A knack for dropping off in the second half and a flimsy defence makes a second home defeat of the week likely for Chelsea. Do not be surprised to see the Blues find the net, though.

Stephanie Frappart will be the first female to officiate a major UEFA men’s game when she takes charge of Liverpool against Chelsea. – 888Sport

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