Chelsea host Liverpool this weekend in a hugely exciting clash at Stamford Bridge, the big-spending west London side seeking to make an early statement of intent as they prepare to face the champions.
Frank Lampard has invested heavily in his squad this summer with a host of marquee arrivals and Chelsea will be hoping to build on an opening weekend victory at Brighton.
Liverpool began the defence of their title by beating newly-promoted Leeds in a thriller at Anfield, though the Reds will be looking for rather more defensive solidity against a Chelsea side now boasting star power in attack.
Ahead of the clash we’ve decided to assess the strengths of both sides and pick our combined Chelsea and Liverpool XI:
Goalkeeper: Alisson – Liverpool
The easiest selection on the team sheet, the most expensive goalkeepers in history will be on show this weekend, though it’s fair to say Kepa Arrizabalaga and Alisson have enjoyed rather contrasting fortunes since their record-breaking moves.
Liverpool made Alisson the most expensive goalkeeper in world football when signing the Brazilian from Roma two years ago, only for Chelsea to eclipse that figure just weeks later by signing Kepa Arrizabalaga from Athletic Bilbao.
The former has established himself as arguably the best number one in the division and has played a crucial role in the Reds’ Champions League and Premier League victories over the past two seasons, whilst Kepa faces an uncertain future following a host of indifferent displays.
Right-back: Trent Alexander-Arnold – Liverpool
Trent Alexander-Arnold’s status continues to rise as arguably the best attacking right-back in world football, the youngster having enjoyed a meteoric rise since coming through the academy ranks of his boyhood side.
The 21-year-old has already reached two Champions League finals – winning the latter – and played his part in Liverpool’s drought-breaking title success of last season, his creative qualities a fundamental part of the Reds’ attacking play.
The England international set a new single season record for assists by a defender in 2018/19, before eclipsing his own landmark last term to be named as the PFA Young Player of the Year.
Reece James – who looks the latest bright prospect amongst England’s wealth of right-back options – could state his claim in the coming seasons and Cesar Azpilicueta remains ever dependable, but Alexander-Arnold is a unique playmaking talent amongst the Premier League’s finest at present.
Centre-back: Joe Gomez – Liverpool
The first centre-back position in our side is taken by Liverpool’s Joe Gomez, who has continued to grow in stature at the heart of the Reds’ defence in recent seasons.
The England international has all the ingredients needed to be a leading central defender, possessing a powerful physical frame, recovery pace and composure in possession.
Gomez has struck up a fine relationship with partner Virgil van Dijk and the duo complement one another perfectly, with the club’s winning record vastly improved when the 23-year-old is in the side.
Liverpool – somewhat incredibly – went two-and-a-half years without losing a fixture Gomez had started at centre-back, their defeat to Manchester City in an essential dead-rubber in July their first league loss with the defender in the side since January 2018.
Centre-back: Virgil van Dijk – Liverpool
Virgil van Dijk commands an automatic place in this combined XI given his performances since signing for Liverpool in January 2018, the Dutch defender establishing himself as arguably the world’s finest centre-back in recent seasons.
The Netherlands international was named as the PFA Player of the Year during his first full season on Merseyside and helped the Reds to Champions League success, before playing a crucial role once more as the club ended their 30-year wait for a league title.
Rarely has a player had such a transformative effect on a side as Van Dijk, Liverpool boasting the best defensive record in the Premier League over the past two seasons.
Even with a lack of credible Chelsea alternatives, the 29-year-old was a shoo-in for this side.
Left-back: Andy Robertson – Liverpool
Andy Robertson completes a Liverpool back five in our combined side, the Scotland captain forming one half of the Premier League’s best full-back pairing.
Robertson has emerged as one of the best pieces of business Liverpool have conducted in an era of smart recruitment at Anfield, the bargain buy from relegated Hull City becoming one of the division’s finest and a firm fans’ favourite.
Offering endless energy and dangerous delivery from full-back, Robertson has starred alongside fellow full-back Alexander-Arnold with the duo embroiled in a friendly – if competitive – assist competition each season.
Robertson has racked up double figures for goals provided in each of the past two seasons, an inexhaustible figure with more than a touch of quality.
Midfield: N’Golo Kante – Chelsea
N’Golo Kante’s status as the world’s best defensive midfielder may have dipped slightly given his injury problems and deployment in a more advanced role, but the Frenchman’s previous exploits earn his inclusion in our side.
At full fitness the France international remains a premier ball-winner and dynamic midfield presence, capable of covering gaps and regaining possession for his Chelsea teammates.
He has shown playing further forward that there are more strings to his bow, but Kante’s greatest strengths undoubtedly lie in his tactical intelligence, energy and as a defensive screen for the back four.
With Chelsea have struggled badly defensively last season, it will be interesting to see how Lampard utilises the 29-year-old in his new-look side.
Jordan Henderson – who played the best football of his career last season – and the silky Mateo Kovacic are unfortunate to miss out here.
Midfield: Fabinho – Liverpool
Alongside Kante in our engine room is Liverpool enforcer Fabinho, a player who – after taking time to adjust to the demands of the Premier League – has established himself as a fundamental part of Jurgen Klopp’s side.
The Reds are often accused of possessing a functional midfield but that is perhaps a little harsh on the Brazil international, Fabinho possessing a fine passing range and an ability to hit thunderbastards from distance in addition to his diligent defensive play.
Liverpool’s defensive record has been praised over the past two seasons but a large part of that success has been down to their midfield anchor, the disciplined style of the 26-year-old providing the platform for the Reds’ rampaging full-backs to wreak havoc.
Midfield: Thiago Alcantara – Liverpool
He may be yet to kick a ball in the Premier League
but Liverpool’s latest summer signing makes our side, Thiago recognised as one of the world’s premier talents following a career spent at the pinnacle of the game.
The Spain international has won nine league titles and two Champions League trophies over spells with Barcelona and Bayern Munich, including the past seven Bundesliga championships in succession before making the move to Merseyside.
The creative heartbeat of Bayern’s treble-winning side last season, Thiago is a sublimely talented technician who is sure to delight English football fans, possessing an obscene first touch and bringing a continental flair to the game.
His passing range is amongst the best in world football, whilst his ability to press and ghost past opponents make him seemingly the ideal signing for Jurgen Klopp’s winning machine.
Right-wing: Mohamed Salah – Liverpool
Chelsea fans could quite possibly have seen Mohamed Salah lining up in blue this weekend had the Egyptian been granted more time to prove himself at Stamford Bridge, the forward enduring a disappointing spell with the west London side before rebuilding his career in Italian football.
Chelsea’s loss has proven Liverpool’s gain after the Merseyside club brought the star back to the Premier League three years ago, where he has since smashed a whole host of goalscoring records on the red half of Merseyside.
Premier League winner, Champions League winner, two Premier League Golden Boots and a Player of the Year double are just a some of the notable achievements by Salah in recent seasons, the 28-year-old also quickly closing in on a century of goals for the club.
Amongst the premier talents in world football at present, he will hope to provide his former side with yet another reminder of how far he has come this weekend.
Left-wing: Sadio Mane – Liverpool
The second of Liverpool’s fabled front three to make our side, Sadio Mane has starred in tandem with the aforementioned Salah and Roberto Firmino to fire the Merseyside club’s pursuit of silverware under Jurgen Klopp.
Amongst the first signings of the Klopp era at Liverpool, Mane has also proven one of the very best, elevating his game to great heights since arriving at Anfield to establish himself as one of the most exciting attacking players in the game.
Lightning quick and industrious in his pressing play, the Senegalese speedster is exhilarating when at full tilt, bursting past static opposition defenders and bamboozling opponents with his close control.
Last season saw the 28-year-old play a major part in Liverpool’s title triumph after scoring 20+ goals in all competitions for the third season in succession, also being named as the PFA Fans’ Player of the Year following an outstanding individual campaign.
Forward: Timo Werner – Chelsea
Liverpool fans will likely be cursing the sacrilege of not uniting their fabled front three in our side, but whilst the work of Roberto Firmino in knitting together attacks is undisputed, we’ve opted for a guaranteed bucket-load of goals in Timo Werner.
Werner arrives as one of Chelsea’s marquee summer signings and with a big reputation following his exploits in the Bundesliga, the Germany international having scored 95 goals in just 159 appearances over a four season spell with RB Leipzig.
Last season was the best of the 24-year-old’s career as he hit 34 goals in all competitions, and the forward will be seeking to replicate those returns ahead of his maiden campaign in English football.
Werner boasts electric pace and excellent finishing ability as the spearhead of Lampard’s new-look side at Stamford Bridge, and will no doubt he out to make his mark this weekend against a Liverpool side who withdrew their interest in signing him earlier this summer.
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