Chelsea and Liverpool meet in the Premier League this evening, as two clubs enduring challenging campaigns search for a positive result.
A once top-of-the-table clash has turned into a mid-table match-up with both teams having fallen below expectations this season, with tonight’s encounter a must-win for Liverpool if the visitors are to remain in contention for Champions League football.
Chelsea’s top four hopes already appear over and the west Londoners – 11th in the Premier League – are conducting a search for a new head coach, following the decision to sack Graham Potter last weekend.
Ahead of an intriguing clash at Stamford Bridge, we’ve chosen our Chelsea and Liverpool combined XI from those available for selection.
Goalkeeper: Alisson – Liverpool
Arguably the easiest selection on the team sheet, Alisson has been a consistent performer in what has been a difficult season at Liverpool.
Jurgen Klopp’s side trail only Fulham for big chances conceded per game in the Premier League this season, an alarming statistic that would have been more prominent had it not been for the performances of the club’s number one.
Outstanding, @Alissonbecker 😱 pic.twitter.com/DAm3zopNjD
— Liverpool FC (@LFC) February 19, 2023
One of the world’s best goalkeepers, he has bailed out the Reds time and time again this season. Liverpool’s Player of the Season and it hasn’t been close.
Right-back: Reece James – Chelsea
Reece James earns the nod over Trent Alexander-Arnold at right-back, with the Chelsea defender a more complete talent than his Liverpool rival. Each are technically gifted and excel on the front foot, but James’ superior defensive skills make him the stand-out option for our combined side.
Last season the 23-year-old scored five goals, provided nine Premier League assists and created more open-play chances than any other Chelsea player, a contribution which has been missed given the defender’s fitness issues this season.
Back fit, he will hope to reform his effective wing-back partnership with Ben Chilwell at Stamford Bridge.
Centre-back: Ibrahima Konate – Liverpool
Ibrahima Konate has impressed for Liverpool since joining the club’s defensive options last season, with the Frenchman on the losing side just once during the 2021/22 campaign.
This season has proven more challenging, but the 23-year-old has been Liverpool’s most consistent centre-back option. He featured as France reached the World Cup final in Qatar last winter and looks set to be a cornerstone of Liverpool’s rebuild under Jurgen Klopp. Composed in possession and quick across the ground, he has all the attributes to thrive in a high defensive line.
Centre-back: Virgil van Dijk – Liverpool
Virgil van Dijk has found himself a target for criticism this season, with the Dutch defender’s once impregnable aura having appeared rather more vulnerable this season.
That said, Van Dijk’s past performances warrant inclusion here and Jurgen Klopp will hope the pillar on which his defence has been built can find his form across the run-in.
Liverpool need, and will demand, more from the Netherlands captain who until only recently held a largely unchallenged status as the Premier League’s best centre-back.
Left-back: Andy Robertson – Liverpool
Andy Robertson edges out Ben Chilwell to claim our left-back role, who despite falling below his usual standards (who in a Liverpool or Chelsea shirt hasn’t this season?) remains one of the division’s best.
Full of hard running in both directions and a source of consistent quality from wide, he became the Premier League’s record assist provider among defenders earlier in the campaign. The Scotland captain has been an ever-present during the successes of the Jurgen Klopp era.
🗣️ “It’s always a tough game when you play against Chelsea. When you look at the results since I’ve been here, it’s always been tight and nobody has really ran away with any game.”
Andrew Robertson says he expects a close encounter with Chelsea tonight. pic.twitter.com/EoGxDvBXZY
— Football Daily (@footballdaily) April 4, 2023
Midfield: N’Golo Kante – Chelsea
N’Golo Kante could make his return to the starting side for Chelsea against Liverpool, following the midfielder’s appearance off the bench against Aston Villa last time out. Kante has missed almost the entire campaign to date with a hamstring issue and the return of his midfield dynamism will be welcomed at Chelsea ahead of the run-in.
Kante’s box-to-box influence could decide this evening’s clash in Chelsea’s favour, against a Liverpool midfield who have lacked intensity this season and who appeared statuesque during the Reds’ heavy loss at Manchester City last weekend.
Kante has the capability to run over a Liverpool engine room that has malfunctioned too often this season.
Midfield: Enzo Fernandez – Chelsea
Enzo Fernandez was the headline arrival of Chelsea’s spending spree in January, as the midfielder became the most expensive footballer in Premier League history.
A £106.1m price-tag has brought inevitable expectations, but Fernandez has impressed during his opening months at Chelsea and has brought an expansive passing range and diligent defensive work to the Blues’ engine room.
Enzo in the middle. 👏 pic.twitter.com/ROTQgzW12U
— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) March 19, 2023
Fernandez is capable of dictating games from deep and has added a touch of class to the Chelsea side.
Midfield: Mateo Kovacic – Chelsea
Mateo Kovacic completes an all-Chelsea midfield in our combined side, with Liverpool’s midfield issues well-documented this season.
Kovacic combines poise in possession with a relentless work-ethic, a midfielder who is equally comfortable driving forward with the ball in his feet or snapping into challenges on opposition players.
Kova puts the seal on it! 😍 pic.twitter.com/eQhMuTOvgf
— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) March 11, 2023
At home in tight areas of the pitch and able to manoeuvre through midfield traffic with short bursts of acceleration and close control, he is often a crucial conduit as Chelsea go from back to front.
Right-wing: Mohamed Salah – Liverpool
Mohamed Salah will face his former side this evening, having cemented his status as a Liverpool legend since leaving Chelsea, via Fiorentina and Roma, for Merseyside.
The Egyptian has shattered goal records, scored 179 goals in all competitions, and won the Premier League and Champions League among his honours, alongside an extensive collection of individual accolades that includes three Premier League Golden Boots and two PFA Player of the Year awards.
Mo Salah 🆚 Chelsea
You know the rest… 🇪🇬👑
#GoalOfTheDay @LFC pic.twitter.com/NxwQ5CApLY
— Premier League (@premierleague) May 5, 2020
He has reached 20+ goals in six consecutive seasons at Liverpool and could be the Reds’ danger man at Stamford Bridge this evening.
Left-wing: Joao Felix – Chelsea
Chelsea capitalised on Joao Felix’s frustration at Atletico Madrid to sign the forward on loan during the January transfer window.
The Portugal international endured a difficult debut after being sent off at Fulham, but has since scored twice in eight Premier League appearances for the west Londoners. While Chelsea will want more from a footballer brimming with natural talent, Felix has injected life into the club’s forward line and an ability to glide past players has brought an unpredictability to the Blues.
A lovely first Premier League goal for Joao Felix! 👏 pic.twitter.com/nPWt1BcAHt
— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) February 11, 2023
Forward: Darwin Nunez – Liverpool
Darwin Nunez leads the line in our combined side with the forward having proven a handful for Premier League backlines since his £64m arrival from Benfica last summer.
A blend of pace, power and aerial threat, Nunez has scored 14 goals in 23 starts across all competitions for Liverpool this season and, while raw, has all the attributes to develop into a top centre-forward.
A sublime @TrentAA assist to tee up a well-placed volley from @Darwinn99 👌 pic.twitter.com/Izfe4Gjoa5
— Liverpool FC (@LFC) January 8, 2023
Liverpool will hope a challenging first season can lead to progress next term, as the Uruguayan looks to lead the club’s new-look front three.
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