Date: Sunday 13th August 2023
Venue: Stamford Bridge
Kick-off: 16:30 BST
We’ve cleared out the deadwood (most of it), those who couldn’t raise a smile, much less a performance for us last season. We’ve had goodbyes from some who genuinely cared about the club and had given us their all, and we’ve had the emotionless self-serving PR statement – now we move on. New season, new manager, new starting XI. Still Chelsea.
We’ve had a good pre-season, winning the inaugural Premier League Summer Series but friendlies won’t have told us much about the season to come, particularly now we’ve lost Nkunku for at least the first few months and we’re still in the process of assembling the squad. We’re a younger, less experienced side, so we can expect plenty of ups and downs again this season, but we should at the very least see the effort and enthusiasm that was woefully absent during the last campaign.
Our first game sees us play host to a Liverpool side that’s also said a few goodbyes over the summer, although they still have much more stability within the side and the management. They’ve made a couple of decent additions already and rumour has it they’d still like to add a young defensive midfielder…and the outcome (or not) of that could serve up some extra spice today.
Mauricio Pochettino, has only won three of his previous 16 meetings with Liverpool as a manager, and the last six meetings between the sides have been drawn. We couldn’t even manage a goal against each other last season in open play but then, it’s probably a season both sides would rather forget and we’ll both be looking to improve.
As for today’s game, as long as we give it a proper go, I’ll take it – Oh and if we can unveil Caicedo, that would be a bonus.
Going into today’s game, Chelsea manager Mauricio Pochettino, says “Always my impression of Chelsea from outside was a club with the capacity to win, with a fanbase and a history. Manchester City have appeared in the last few years, or Liverpool. But we talked about Chelsea more than Manchester United in the last 10 or 15 years winning Premier Leagues and European Cups. That was my vision but of course when what happened happened it was a difficult situation. When change is big people need time to settle at a big club like Chelsea. Now it is about working to create a different vision and for the people to trust in the club again. To get the results and try to play good football for the fans because we are selling entertainment and they come here to enjoy the team.
I think we are more in transition than Liverpool. I am new here and Klopp is for how long in Liverpool? Seven years. You can anticipate the transition, you can see what is going to come, you can be ahead of the problems. When you have the backing of the club, I think it’s being clever in how you anticipate the situation. Of course, we are Chelsea, the history of the club is to win. Even if we are transition, we cannot give the message that we are in transition, we need to win. We need to be ready to win and we are going to be ready to win vs Liverpool even if they are a really good team. The mentality for the players and the whole club is to compete in the best way to be strong and really believe in us. I’m not going to accept a different way to think. No excuse for us because we need to be strong and for sure we have very good players and players that can compete and fight for big things. The process is always about improving. We started only one month ago, we need to set our principles, in time we are going to arrive in our best condition to be there with the big sides and put the club where it deserves to be.”
Liverpool manager, Jurgen Klopp, meanwhile, says “It’s two, I think, really good football teams, very talented football teams, [who] will face each other. We watched obviously Chelsea on the tour, whatever we could get from there, from the last games they played, the Dortmund game [and] Newcastle game. A lot of good things. You can see that, it’s a really talented team, that’s what we have to prepare for. It’s a home game for them, the first home game after a long break, if you want, after a disappointing season, that’s all clear. So they want to show up, definitely. New manager, Poch is a top manager, so they will show up. We have to be ready. We have to be absolutely ready. The football they played you can see it – Poch is there.
We played against Mauricio often when he was at Tottenham, so you can see a lot of similarities from that time and in the end we don’t know exactly. I think Nkunku was a key part of the plans. Very unfortunate for the boy and for Chelsea with his bad injury. I think that was something they really planned with, but they have really good options offensively to solve that. Let’s see. It’s the first football game, real competitive football game for us this season. We don’t want to waste time, or whatever, we really want to go for it, but we have to see how it goes. Everybody asks, and I am more than 20 years in the business, it’s always the first game, people say you don’t know where you stand exactly, I’m not really interested, to be honest. I want us to 100 per cent [see] what we have that day and from there we go. I think we should give it a proper try.”
For Chelsea, Wesley Fofana (knee) is a long-term absentee, joined by Christopher Nkunku (knee) who may be out until January. Benoit Badiashile, Noni Madueke (both hamstring) and Armando Broja (fitness) are unlikely to feature. Kepa won’t be part of the squad, with a loan move to Real Madrid in the offing (I know, right?), whilst debuts could be handed to new signings Nicolas Jackson and Axel Disasi.
For Liverpool, Thiago Alcantara (hip), Stefan Bajcetic (adductor) are out, whilst new signings Dominik Szoboszlai and Alexis Mac Allister are set to make their debuts.
CHELSEA (Possible line-up): Sanchez; James, Silva, Colwill, Chilwell; Fernandez, Gallagher; Sterling, Chukwuemeka, Mudryk; Jackson
LIVERPOOL (Possible line-up): Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Konate, Van Dijk, Robertson; Jones, Mac Allister, Szoboszlai; Salah, Nunez, Diaz
Chelsea 0-0 Liverpool (4 April 2023)
- The last six league and cup meetings between Chelsea and Liverpool have been drawn.
- The four most recent meetings have finished 0-0.
- Chelsea have won their opening Premier League game 20 times.
- Liverpool have not lost their opening league game in any of the past 10 seasons.
- Chelsea won one of their 19 league games against teams who finished in the top half of the table last season.
- Liverpool lost eight Premier League away games last season.
- New Chelsea head coach Mauricio Pochettino has won five of his seven Premier League matches on the opening weekend of the season.
Sportsmole: Chelsea 2-2 Liverpool