Chelsea travel to Anfield on Wednesday night with a chance to secure a top four finish, coming up against a Liverpool side that have taken permanent residence at the proverbial beach ever since they clinched a maiden Premier League crown.
There will be no danger of the Reds playing in flip-flops against one of their bitterest rivals, however, as they look to end the season as strongly as possible (and perhaps make themselves feel better about missing out on a certain Timo Werner).
Meanwhile, Frank Lampard will be hoping that his side have something left in the tank after a spectacular victory over their Champions League rivals Manchester United in the FA Cup at the weekend, but with Tammy Abraham and Christian Pulisic both rested, they’ll have the tools to unsettle Liverpool’s defence.
Could this be a dress rehearsal for next season’s title race? How will Liverpool react to falling short of Manchester City’s 100-point record season? Read on for 90min‘s preview…
When is Kick Off? Wednesday 22 July
What Time is Kick Off? 20:15 (BST)
Where is it Played? Anfield
TV Channel/Live Stream? Sky Sports Main Event
Referee? Andre Marriner
Liverpool will be without long-term absentees Joel Matip, who continues to struggle with an ankle complaint, and Jordan Henderson, who will miss the remainder of the season after picking up a knee injury in his side’s win against Brighton. James Milner could, however, be in contention after recovering from a thigh problem.
Chelsea will be unable to call on Billy Gilmour, who has undergone surgery after damaging the meniscus of his knee and will not take part, while defensive midfielder N’Golo Kanté is still sidelined with a hamstring injury that he picked up against Watford.
Neither side have any players ruled out through suspension.
Liverpool: Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Gomez, Van Dijk, Robertson; Keita, Fabinho, Jones; Salah, Firmino, Mané.
Chelsea: Kepa; Azpilicueta, Rudiger, Zouma, Alonso; Loftus-Cheek, Mount, Kovacic; Willian, Abraham, Pulisic
Measured by the incredibly high standards that Jurgen Klopp and his team have upheld since arriving at Anfield, Liverpool’s recent form has been… not great. But given they just won the title it’s probably okay for the Gegenpressing to get a little sloppy, right?
Nonetheless, it’s unlikely that the effervescent German will be happy with just two victories in five games – irrespective of the context of the matches – and losing to both Pep Guardiola and his former assistant Mikel Arteta within a fortnight will have hurt his pride.
Chelsea, meanwhile, have been one of the most topsy-turvy teams in the league since the restart, but in general have done the bare minimum required to keep them in with a shout of European football – and if you can’t handle them at their ‘losing 3-0 to Sheffield United’, you don’t deserve them at their ‘blowing away Ole Gunnar Solskjaer at Wembley’!
Here’s some more detail as to how the two rivals have got on…
Arsenal 2-1 Liverpool (15/07)
Liverpool 1-1 Burnley (11/07)
Brighton 1-3 Liverpool (08/07)
Liverpool 2-0 Aston Villa (05/07)
Manchester City 4-0 Liverpool (24/06)
Manchester United 1-3 Chelsea (19/07)
Chelsea 1-0 Norwich (14/07)
Sheffield United 3-0 Chelsea (11/07)
Crystal Palace 2-3 Chelsea (07/07)
Chelsea 3-0 Watford (04/07)
You can only keep a team like Liverpool down for so long, and from Demba Ba to Timo Werner, they’ve always got some kind of unfinished business with Chelsea.
With Liverpool having had a whole week’s rest, compared to Frank Lampard’s side, who will have had just 72 hours to recover having chased Marcus Rashford, Bruno Fernandes and Daniel James around Wembley’s enormous pitch, the augurs are certainly suggesting that the Redmen will end their season on a high note.
Klopp’s men are not a cohort which spend too much time dwelling on defeat, and a statement victory ahead of a renewed title charge from Pep Guardiola and Manchester City next season could be on the cards.
Prediction: Liverpool 3-1 Chelsea