Liverpool and Chelsea take on each other in the pick of matches from the weekend. The Reds will travel to Stamford Bridge and look to get the first Premier League win under Jürgen Klopp. The German registered his first win as new Liverpool boss against Bournemouth in the Capital One Cup recently and would look to now get one in the league. For José Mourinho, time seems to be running out. There are reports that the manager will be sacked if Chelsea lose to Liverpool. Whether it’s true or not, we don’t know. However, it does add an extra flavor to the tie.
Here are three key battles that could shape the outcome of the match.
Diego Costa vs Martin Skrtel
The Spaniard was recently hospitalized due to a rib injury but he is confident of making it for this tie. Martin Škrtel and Diego Costa have been involved in many heated exchanges in the last season.
It started during Slovakia’s shock 1-0 win over Spain in November 2014, a match in which they were constantly at each other’s throats, and this frosty relationship has resurfaced in their three encounters since.
It would be unwise to think the two will take it easy in this game.
Costa has not been in his spectacular form but the Spaniard has enough ability to cause any defence a nightmare. The former Atletico player will want to make sure he helps Mourinho by helping the side register a win. Škrtel meanwhile, will have to keep Costa under control if he wants to ensure Liverpool end their winless streak against the Blues.
Nemanja Matic vs Philippe Coutinho
Both the undeniably talented players are currently going through a dip in form. The Serbian midfielder propelled his side to a Premier League title but has not been in the same touch as last season. The Brazilian, meanwhile, scored a gorgeous goal in the opening match against Stoke City but that has been all he has done this season. Subsequently, he also lost his place in Dunga’s Brazil squad. Coutinho needs to get back in his talismanic touch for Liverpool to have decent attacking threat. Matic meanwhile, will have to curb Coutinho’s threat and ensure he doesn’t get enough space to exploit.
Eden Hazard vs Nathaniel Clyne
It is almost inexplicable how Hazard has gone from being Chelsea’s best player to a passenger in the side. It’s not been a good season for the Belgian and he is yet to find his first goal of the season. The former Lille winger also missed the decisive penalty in the shootout against Stoke City earlier this week. He seems devoid of any sort of luck. He will be up against Liverpool’s best signing of the summer (so far), Nathaniel Clyne. Clyne, au contraire, scored against Bournemouth and hence will also be in more confident mood. However, Clyne would know more than anyone that form is a temporary thing and in Eden Hazard, he faces one of the world’s best attackers. The England international will constantly have to be on his toes to ensure Hazard doesn’t get back his touch against Liverpool.