Liverpool and Chelsea take on each other in the pick of clashes for this weekend. Reports of José Mourinho being shown the door if Chelsea lose only add more excitement to the match.
Chelsea have failed to get going this season and Liverpool have also not been in terrific form. Irrespective, we pick the available combined eleven of the two teams, based partially on skill and partially on form. (Note: injured players do not qualify)
Goalkeeper: Asmir Begovic
Between Thibaut Courtois and Simon Mignolet, the choice would have been as obvious to us as it is to Marc Wilmots. However, even between Chelsea’s second choice goalkeeper and Mignolet, we will have to with Begovic simply because along with being a good keeper, he is also consistent. Mignolet suffers from too many ups and downs. Begovic is also better at distribution.
Right back: Nathaniel Clyne
Clyne has been the finest summer signing for Liverpool thus far. The former Saints player scored his first goal for the Reds against Bournemouth in the League Cup and has been an ever present part of the side since his arrival. With Branislav Ivanovic doing woefully this season (he is also out with injury) and Kurt Zouma not a natural right-back, Clyne finds it easy to make this team
Centre back: Kurt Zouma
Kurt Zouma gets a nod over teammate Gary Cahill as well as Liverpool’s Martin Skrtel. Cahill has not been in his solid form recently and Skrtel is a liability on a lot of occasions. 21-year-old Zouma was picked by Mourinho to start in place of Terry initially and has now been playing on the right. The French youngster is not only talented but also extremely composed and solid at the back.
Centre back: Mamadou Sakho
It is an all France pairing at the back as Sakho gets the nod over out-of-form Terry and consistently out-of-form Lovren. The Liverpool defender has been extremely impressive in the last few games and has become a cult figure in Merseyside. He is shattering the myth of not being good with the ball and his no-nonsense defending is finally getting him the credit he deserves.
Left back: Cesar Azpilicueta
Despite Alberto Moreno doing really well in the past few weeks, Azpilicueta is the clear choice in this spot. The Spaniard has been one of the few players who has not disappointed this season.
Centre-midfield: Nemanja Matic
The Serbian, despite not being in the form of last season, is still the pick for the spot. The former Benfica’s undeniable talent of shielding the back four to perfection and linking the play with the attack makes him get the spot.
Centre-midfield: Cesc Fabregas
Fabregas wouldn’t have got this spot, but injury to Jordan Henderson means the former Arsenal player doesn’t have enough competition here as James Milner has not been good playing centrally for the Reds.
Another player who has performed well in recent weeks when his teammates haven’t. The Brazilian offers goal threat but it is his work rate and willingness to track back that really make him an asset in any team.
Attacking midfielder: Philippe Coutinho
Coutinho too has not been performing of late. However, he is the obvious choice from the available options primarily because of his ability to create one spectacular game winning moment.
Left-wing: Eden Hazard
Despite suffering from an inexplicable dip in form, Hazard gets the spot because on form, there are few players in the world, let alone in two clubs, that can keep him out of a team.
Striker: Christian Benteke
This was perhaps the toughest battle for a spot with both Diego Costa and Benteke scoring three goals apiece. However, Benteke’s temperament, the fact that he has looked more threatening in recent games along with scoring the finer goals out of the two helps him make the cut by a small margin.