Can Reds defender Van Dijk stop the new Blues striker at Anfield tomorrow?
Liverpool: Liverpool and Chelsea face off in the first heavyweight clash between title contenders of the Premier League season tomorrow.
Arsenal suffered at the hands of Chelsea last weekend as Romelu Lukaku scored on his second debut in a 2-0 win for the Blues.
The Belgian, who returned to Stamford Bridge this month for a club record #97 million ($133 million), scored his 114th Premier League goal at the Emirates, but his first for Chelsea after failing to make an impression in his first spell at the club.
Now 28, Lukaku looks the complete package and the final piece needed to turn Thomas Tuchel’s European champions into Premier League winners. But he has scored in only one of his last 11 against the Reds.
Chelsea and Liverpool are two of five teams to take maximum points from two games alongside West Ham, Tottenham and Brighton.
But of the pre-season title favourites, they have already opened up a two-point advantage over Manchester United and three-point lead on Manchester City.
Lukaku faces a much tougher test at a full Anfield with Liverpool rejuvenated by the return of fans and talismanic centre-back Virgil van Dijk from injury.
The Dutchman’s presence has seen Jurgen Klopp’s men keep two clean sheets in their opening games against Norwich and Burnley.
But goalkeeper Alisson Becker acknowledged that beating Chelsea would send a far stronger signal to their title rivals that Liverpool are back to their best.
“For what we believe and for what we want to achieve, it’s a good sign because you are playing one of the favourite sides in the title race and if you can beat one of these sides it’s always good for you to give confidence,” said the Brazilian.
“We won the Premier League before and we know that we need to think always about the next challenge that we have in front of us, so this game is important.”
If Diogo Jota scores against Chelsea, he would become the fourth player to net in each of Liverpool’s first three matches of a Premier League campaign, joining Robbie Fowler (1994/95), Daniel Sturridge (2013/14) and Sadio Mane (2017/18). Left-back Andy Robertson could make his comeback from an ankle problem by replacing Kostas Tsimikas in the starting line-up.
Liverpool have lost only two of their last 13 Premier League meetings with Chelsea (W6 D5), though one of those defeats was in the most recent such contest in March.
Chelsea midfielder N’Golo Kante, who has been nursing an ankle problem, might start his first league game of the season while Cesar Azpilicueta is set to make his 300th Premier League appearance.
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