Chelsea face welcome Liverpool to Stamford Bridge on Friday night as Antonio Conte seeks to maintain his undefeated start to life in the Premier League. Although Chelsea dropped points in last weekend’s away fixture at Swansea City, the Blues remain one of unbeaten in the league and currently sit second behind Manchester City.
A win over Liverpool could see Conte’s side vault to the top of the table, at least temporarily. However, the 2014 champions will have to do so without captain John Terry who injured his ankle against Swansea.
That means the Italian manager will have to start David Luiz, who will be making his first appearance in Chelsea blue since he left the club two years ago.
Luiz is likely to start alongside Gary Cahill in the center of defense, with Branislav Ivanovic and Cesar Azpilicueta likely to start at fullback. Chelsea’s defense will have to be sharp to stop a Liverpool attack that’s already scored 14 goals this season.
In the opposing dugout, Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp will be looking for his second consecutive win after the Reds stomped champions Leicester City 4-1 at Anfield last weekend. On the injury front, Klopp’s options will be bolstered by the return of Dejan Lovren who has overcome a recent eye injury and will be fit to start.
Emre Can, who like Terry is dealing with an ankle problem, is back in training but is not expected to be available. Questions marks meanwhile, remain over attacker Philippe Coutinho who was given a rest after his long journey back from international duty with Brazil.
But the true stars of Friday’s clash are likely to be the two managers. Conte and Klopp are two of biggest managers in the world. With Conte in his maiden season in England and Klopp in his first full season much attention will be placed on the tactical battle between the two.
Klopp’s Liverpool and Conte’s Chelsea have actually faced each other before, last summer in the International Champions Cup. But Friday’s fixture will mark the first time they’ve met in a competitive fixture. While Chelsea arguably have the superior squad, with striker Diego Costa, midfielders Eden Hazard Cesc Fabregas likely to feature, Klopp may have the tactical edge.
Throughout his career, the German has displayed a knack for undoing technically superior teams with tactics and endeavor.
Neither side qualified for European football this season so both sets of players will be fresh going into Friday’s match.
Watch Chelsea vs. Liverpool this Friday, September 15 at 2:55 p.m. EST on NBC Sports.