Chelsea vs Liverpool: Three key players to look out for

Chelsea host Liverpool in what is billed as a ‘mid-table’ madness, as we look at three key stars likely to hold the keys to this game.

A clash featuring Chelsea and Liverpool at this stage in any other season would have implications on the title chase. Right now, the Reds are the only team to hang on to something meaningful. Few continue to predict an improbable top-four finish for Jurgen Klopp’s men.

A humbling defeat to Manchester City over the weekend have dented their hopes to play UEFA Champions League football next season. But there is still a bit of hope. If Liverpool manage to stitch together a good run of games, they might certainly finish within Europa League ranks.

Chelsea vs Liverpool Preview: Prediction, Probable Lineups, Tactics, Team News & Key Stats

Klopp is yet to figure out the problems engulfing his side as they have produced bad results, particularly against big teams. Having already lost to Manchester City, they now face Chelsea and Arsenal between Tuesday and Sunday. The outcomes of these two games will determine where Liverpool could finish, with the hope of being inside the top four.

As for Chelsea, they relieved Graham Potter of his duties following a disappointing result at home against Aston Villa. Unai Emery’s side set up a defensive shape and killed the game off with clinical composure in the final third.

Statistically, Chelsea played their best football in an attacking sense under Graham Potter, but the unfortunate end to the clash cost Potter his job. The Blues do look like a disfigured team and desperately need squad streamlining to achieve balance.

With ten games to go, if Chelsea are to improve their form, they could yet achieve European qualification of some kind. The spending under the new owners would not reflect well on this team playing in the Europa League or the Europa Conference League.

Whatever happens with their season from here on, Chelsea and Liverpool will focus on their efforts in midweek. A win seems imperative for both sides, and three players will prove crucial to the chances of either side.

Enzo Fernandez

The British record signing has only shown his talents in flashes. The Argentine World Cup winner is yet to shine against some of the big teams. While there is evidence of his talents, it is yet to come out on the field that benefits Chelsea in a way.

Fernandez was expected to add energy and engine to this Chelsea midfield, which has lacked a No.6 (barring Jorginho) for the whole duration of Potter’s term. If N’Golo Kante proves his fitness after many months out and starts against Liverpool, we could see a different side of the Argentine.

The Argentine has a good chance to showcase his talents against a haphazard Liverpool side lacking onus in the central areas. Fernandez has to dominate the zone and give Chelsea the incentive to push forward and hurt the likes of Virgil van Dijk or Trent Alexander-Arnold.

Fernandez will have to match the physical levels of this Liverpool midfield probably about to start with Fabinho in the centre. The game will be won and lost in the central areas, as the team with the most control will probably nick the points. Hence, it is a platform for the Argentine to shine and make the evening about himself.

Mohamed Salah

The opening goal against Manchester City at the weekend made Liverpool fans believe for a brief period. The supporters might have thought their side were showing mettle and character against the best team in the division, and Salah played a big part in it.

The Egyptian has a tremendous record against the traditional big six sides and his goal against Manchester City showcased that very fact. Salah has often become the man supporters have looked at when their team go through a difficult period, and for these games against Chelsea, and Arsenal, that will remain the case.

Salah will prove crucial in this Liverpool side failing to create chances or even score clinically. The Egyptian has been a shining light in an otherwise underwhelming season at Merseyside. No wonder Barcelona and Real Madrid are reportedly linked with a summer move and taking the forward to Spain.

Salah will have to show he has the character and personality to push Liverpool’s improbable push into the top four. Fans do not expect their team to make it but certainly, want to see them fight it out for a spot. The forward will have to play a key role in that push, starting with a tremendous performance against Chelsea.

Joao Felix

The hype surrounding the Portuguese international at times may seem out of order. He remains an exquisite talent in world football but has yet to completely prove he’s worth the build-up and money clubs have spent on signing him. He may not have a future at Atletico Madrid, but he is on to building his career at Chelsea.

Two goals in eight Premier League games do not justify the €21 million outlay Chelsea made to have him for six months. What the numbers don’t show is his influence in the attacking third, and visibly making other attackers better in flow, including Kai Havertz.

He has a handful of games to prove the mettle needed to succeed in the Premier League and Chelsea would want to sign him nonetheless. Against Liverpool, Felix has the unique chance to impose his game against their defence.

Trent Alexander-Arnold has visibly been a weak link in Liverpool’s armour, but it’s not about the left winger taking him on directly. It’s players like Felix who could create space to exploit the right-back’s area and get in behind their backline.

Felix will undoubtedly look to exploit that area, and Chelsea should start with Christian Pulisic to have a better result on that flank. The Portuguese star will play a key role in this game if he decides to impose himself on proceedings and make a mark.

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