Liverpool host Chelsea this evening in a huge clash in the race to finish in the top four, both sides sitting just outside the Champions League places as we prepare for the Premier League’s run-in.
Few sides have enjoyed such a fierce rivalry since the turn of the millennium with the two teams have contested some seismic encounters, tonight’s clash on Merseyside another that could perhaps prove pivotal to the success of their respective seasons.
Ahead of tonight’s showdown at Anfield, we’ve compiled our dream XI from the two squads, with unavailable players not considered for selection.
Goalkeeper: Alisson – Liverpool
Alisson’s form since signing for Liverpool has largely been imperious with the goalkeeper’s arrival amongst the most transformative signings of the Jurgen Klopp era, though recent high-profile mistakes against both Manchester City and Leicester have seen his reputation dented.
However, the Brazilian international remains one of the best in the business and is expected to return to the side this evening following compassionate leave, and the Reds will be hoping their number one can produce an assured display behind an ever-changing and depleted backline.
Right-back: Trent Alexander-Arnold – Liverpool
Amongst a number of Liverpool players to have performed below expectations this season, there have, however, been signs that Trent Alexander-Arnold is getting back to somewhere close to his best.
Just one Premier League defender – teammate Andy Robertson – has created more big chances this season, with the 22-year-old impressive during the Reds’ 2-0 win at Sheffield United last weekend in a performance full of signature front-foot threat.
At his best there are few full-backs in world football as potent when in possession, the England international possessing sublime technical ability and a delivery from wide that few can match.
Centre-back: Fabinho – Liverpool
Liverpool’s defensive crisis this season has seen midfielder Fabinho utilised in a deeper role for much of the campaign, a position the Brazil international has largely excelled in for the Premier League champions.
Tactically astute and a fine communicator, the auxiliary centre-back has produced a number of strong showings with his comfortability in possession making him the ideal player to step forward into midfield.
The 27-year-old will prefer to be stationed further up the pitch but for now has a role to fill as Liverpool’s leader at the back, his impending return from injury this evening a welcome boost for Jurgen Klopp and his side.
Centre-back: Antonio Rudiger – Chelsea
Antonio Rudiger has re-established himself in the Chelsea side following the arrival of Thomas Tuchel, featuring prominently under the new head coach and starting each of the German’s league fixtures in charge.
Rudiger has added a domineering presence to a new-look back three formation for the west London side, ranking joint-second in the Premier League this season for percentage of aerial duels won.
After a difficult spell under Frank Lampard, the Germany international has the trust of a new coach and is rewarding him with a number of strong performances, Chelsea keeping seven clean sheets in nine fixtures under the new regime.
Left-back: Andy Robertson – Liverpool
Arguably the best left-back in world football and one of the few to have maintained a consistent level of performance in a difficult title defence, Andy Robertson continues to play a key role down the Liverpool left.
Robertson leads the Premier League for touches this season and ranks second for crosses, whilst his nine big chances created are the highest of any defender and sixth amongst all players in England’s top tier.
The Scotland international has been one of the Reds’ best pieces of transfer business in recent seasons and continues to be the benchmark for Premier League full-backs.
Midfield: N’Golo Kante – Chelsea
Remember when previous Chelsea managers attempted to turn N’Golo Kante into a forward running midfield man?
Thomas Tuchel has quickly worked out that the best role for arguably the world’s best defensive midfielder is in fact… in defensive midfield. Who would have thought it?
Kante has looked back to his indefatigable best in recent weeks with his incredible ability to regain and recycle possession evident once more, the Premier League’s leading spoiler protecting the Chelsea backline in fine fashion once again.
Midfield: Thiago Alcantara – Liverpool
Thiago Alcantara’s summer signing was greeted amid much fanfare following his arrival from Bayern Munich, though it’s fair to say we’re yet to see the best of an outrageously talented footballer.
Extenuating circumstances have contributed towards a minimal impact from the Spain international so far, but there are few who doubt the creative quality of a player who has won nine league titles and two Champions League trophies during spells at Barcelona and Bayern Munich.
There have been glimpses of the absurd technique possessed by the 29-year-old, and Liverpool fans will hope for more consistency from the star next season following a difficult debut campaign.
Midfield: Mason Mount – Chelsea
Continuing to grow in importance and influence on this Chelsea side, Mason Mount has enjoyed an excellent individual season with the west Londoners to emerge as arguably the club’s Player of the Season.
The England international has featured in a variety of roles and has performed admirably, leading his teammates for key passes, chances created and most key passes excluding set-pieces.
🗣 "There's nothing to dislike about him."
Roy Keane & Graeme Souness praise Mason Mount for his performances both under Lampard & now Tuchel pic.twitter.com/oyA3pMhLLD
— Football Daily (@footballdaily) February 28, 2021
Mount combines a willingness to work tirelessly with quality in possession and continues to silence his doubters, thriving under previous manager Frank Lampard before quickly cementing himself as indispensable to the arriving Tuchel.
Right-wing: Mohamed Salah – Liverpool
The leading scorer in the Premier League this season and a footballer whose consistency is quite incredible, Mohamed Salah has continued to unsettle defences despite the stuttering form of the defending champions.
Salah has scored 20+ goals in all competitions in each of the past four campaigns for Liverpool, becoming the first player since Ian Rush to achieve the feat for the Merseyside club.
The Egyptian international has now contributed 121 league goal involvements (90 goals, 31 assists) in less than four seasons as a Liverpool player, and Chelsea’s decision to allow him to leave must be one the club hugely regret.
In pursuit of a third Golden Boot in just four campaigns, he could join Alan Shearer and Thierry Henry as the only players to have won more than two Golden Boot accolades in the Premier League era this season.
Left-wing: Sadio Mane – Liverpool
Another star perhaps not reaching the same heights as last season but one who remains one of the Premier League’s finest attacking talents, Liverpool will be hoping Sadio Mane can reignite his season ahead of the visit of Chelsea this evening.
The Senegal international has scored seven league goals and provided a further three assists during the 2020/21, and remains a wonderful footballer to watch at his best with his mix of speed, skill and a relentless desire to press opponents.
Forward: Olivier Giroud – Chelsea
Roberto Firmino’s struggles this season mean Olivier Giroud leads the line in our combined side, the France international seemingly forever proving points to those who doubt his capabilities.
Giroud is a brilliant focal point for any side and mixes a hulking physical presence with a deft touch, whilst the veteran has thrived when handed an opportunity this season with 11 goals in just 11 starts across all competitions.
That haul includes becoming the Champions League’s oldest-ever hat-trick scorer with a sensational four-goal haul against Sevilla, and the 34-year-old is set to be tasked with firing world champions France to success at this summer’s European Championships.