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    Chelsea vs Liverpool Match Preview


    Liverpool face yet another early-season examination of their title-winning credentials when they travel to Stamford Bridge to play Antonio Conte's Chelsea on Friday night.

    Jurgen Klopp's side have already played Arsenal, Tottenham and Leicester in their first four matches of the season and a victory in the opening game of the weekend would put the club level with their London opponents in joint-second position in the table.

    Unbeaten Chelsea have also made an excellent start to the season, winning their first three matches, but their 100 per cent record came to an end last weekend when they needed to come from behind at Swansea to salvage a late 2-2 draw.

    Liverpool

    The Reds, like their opponents, have the advantage this season of being absent from European competition and this has helped them recover in-between matches in order to play their high-energy style of football to its maximum effect.

    Even Premier League Champions Leicester failed to cope with Liverpool's high-intensity last weekend as two goals from Roberto Firmino and a goal-apiece by Sadio Mane and Adam Lallana helped them to record a 4-1 win in front of a redeveloped Anfield.

    The Foxes had no answer to the incisive passing from the likes of Firmino and Lallana, nor to the pace of Daniel Sturridge and Mane, but it was the clinical finishing in the final third of the field that was most impressive about the performance.

    Roberto Firmino misses the match tonight with a minor groin strain but The Reds are unlikely to lose any of their cutting edge as Philippe Coutinho, who was unfortunate to miss out last week having started the season so impressively, takes his place.

    One area where Liverpool have been particularly vulnerable in the early stages of the season has been defensively, having conceded seven goals in four matches, and Klopp's team are also yet to keep a clean sheet.

    Their chances will be enhanced by the return of Dejan Lovren to the starting line-up, after he suffered a black eye in training, but Chelsea will still feel confident of exploiting the away side's leaky defence if it is put under constant pressure throughout the match.

    The Reds have good recent memories of playing Liverpool at Stamford Bridge this decade and their 3-1 victory last October offered an early glimpse of Klopp's high-pressing and counter-attacking style of football at its most devastating.

    Chelsea

    Chelsea have enjoyed an unbeaten start to the season and occupy second place in the table after wins against West Ham, Watford and Burnley and a draw against Swansea last weekend.

    The Blues have displayed a never-say-die attitude in the early part of the campaign having scored last-gasp winners in the 2-1 wins over West Ham and Burnley as well as a late equalizer on Sunday at the Liberty Stadium.

    The form of Diego Costa and Eden Hazard has been in stark contrast to what they showed for the majority of last season and Costa has already scored two winning goals in the Premier League as well as both goals in the draw against Swansea.

    The most interesting addition to the Chelsea side ahead of the transfer deadline was the return of charismatic utility player David Luiz, who starts for his new team tonight in central defence in place of the injured John Terry.

    Belgian striker Michy Batshuayi, who has already scored three goals this season, Spanish full-back Marcos Alonso and French midfielder N'Golo Kante represent Chelsea's other major signings in the transfer window as part of the London club's £116 spending spree.

    The addition of Kante, who was so instrumental in Leicester City's title-winning triumph last campaign, was one of the most eye-catching moves of the summer and he has already added much more solidity to the Chelsea engine-room this season alongside Nemanja Matic.

    The Friday night encounter against Liverpool will prove the club's toughest test of the campaign so far, with a win taking Antonio Conte's side to the top of the table for nearly 24 hours ahead of Manchester City's home clash with Bournemouth tomorrow afternoon.

    Liverpool Team News

    Liverpool will make two changes from the team that beat Leicester 4-1 at Anfield with Dejan Lovren returning to the side after he sustained a black eye in training, while Philippe Coutinho also plays after he only appeared only a substitute against The Foxes.

    Lucas Leiva drops to the bench, while Roberto Firmino misses out with a minor groin injury after he was so instrumental in the Reds' victory last weekend when he started and completed the goalscoring.

    Emre Can (ankle), Sheyi Ojo (back) and Joe Gomez (achilles) remain on the sidelines, while there is still no place in the Liverpool squad for Ragnar Klavan and Mamadou Sakho as they step-up their return to full-fitness.

    Chelsea Team News

    David Luiz makes a second debut for Chelsea after his £34 million signing from Paris Saint-Germain and replaces John Terry in central defence, who misses out having strained ligaments in his foot last weekend.

    Cesc Fabregas and Pedro remain on the bench for The Blues, where they are joined by full-back Ola Aina, who replaces Terry in the matchday squad.

    The only other players on the sidelines for Chelsea are central defender Kurt Zouma and midfielder Marco van Ginkel, who are both recovering from long-term knee injuries.

    Head-to-head

    Liverpool have won only one of their last 10 meetings against Chelsea, although it came the last time they faced their opponents at Stamford Bridge as two goals from Philippe Coutinho and a late strike by Christian Benteke helped them seal a 3-1 win.

    The Reds recorded three consecutive wins at Stamford Bridge at the start of the decade but the victory last October was preceded by two draws and three losses in all competitions at the home of the four-time Premier League Champions.

    On the 68 occasions the clubs have met since the start of the Premier League in all competitions, it is The Blues who hold a narrow advantage of 27 wins to Liverpool's 24, while 17 games have finished as draws.

    The 18-time League Champions, however, lead the all-time head-to-read record with 77 wins to Chelsea's 61, with 38 of the 176 encounters ending in draws.

    Score Prediction

    Chelsea 1-1 Liverpool
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    Item Reviewed: Chelsea vs Liverpool Match Preview Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Richard Tufft
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