The English Premier League season is now set for its third matchday of the season and we have the first really big top of the table clash of the season, between two teams who not only finished in the top four last year, but who have also won the Premier League and Champions League in relatively recent seasons too.
Chelsea make the trip north to Anfield to take on Liverpool, with both teams sitting on an identical records in the Premier League after two games; two wins, six points, five goals scored, none conceded and both hot on the heels of early season table-toppers West Ham United.
Last season, it was the away team that prevailed in the two matches between the teams. Liverpool were 2-0 winners at Stamford Bridge early on in the season, but later in the year Chelsea came to Anfield and landed a relatively rare victory thanks to Mason Mount’s solitary goal of the game.
With Chelsea the current Champions League holders, the Londoners will feel they are well-matched to go toe to toe with a Liverpool side that look to be regaining the composure and consistency that were the hallmarks of the two seasons prior to last, the second of which saw them crowned Premier League Champions.
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So with that in mind, let’s first take a look at the full fixture list for the Premier League this weekend, before we focus in on the Liverpool v Chelsea clash at Anfield.
Premier League Matchday 3
Kick off times are 3pm Saturday unless stated
Manchester City v Arsenal (12.30pm)
Aston Villa v Brentford
Brighton v Everton
Newcastle United v Southampton
Norwich City v Leicester City
West Ham v Crystal Palace
Liverpool v Chelsea (5.30pm)
Burnley v Leeds United (2pm Sun)
Tottenham v Watford (2pm Sun)
Wolves v Manchester United (4.30pm Sun)
West Ham are currently top of the Premier League ahead of Chelsea and Liverpool who have identical records. Brighton are fourth with Tottenham fifth in the table. These five teams are the only teams to have a 100% record heading into Matchday 3.
Manchester United, Everton and Brentford are unbeaten and have four points and lie just off the top five places.
Five teams have not yet landed a point in the Premier League, Wolves, Burnley, Newcastle United, Arsenal and Norwich City and they are currently in that order at the foot of the Premier League table.
Crystal Palace, Norwich City, Arsenal and Wolves have not yet found the net in either of their matches this season. In contrast, Chelsea, Liverpool, Tottenham and Brentford’s defences have all kept clean sheets in both the games they have played.
West Ham’s 8 goals sees them top the charts with most goals scored, while Norwich’s eight goals conceded is the most in the Premier League so far.
Michail Antonio of West Ham and Bruno Fernandes of Manchester United currently lead the top goalscorer charts with three goals apiece.
Liverpool V Chelsea – Preview
The Reds started the season with only Ibrahim Konate as a big new signing in central defence. However, with Harvey Elliott coming back to the club after a very successful loan spell with Blackburn Rovers and Joel Matip, Virgil Van Dijk and Joe Gomez all returning from injury, the Reds have been massively bolstered defensively in particular.
With no sign of any replacement for PSG-bound Gini Wijnaldum, it seems Jurgen Klopp is happy to let the likes of Elliott, Curtis Jones, James Milner, Fabinho, Thiago, Jordan Henderson, Naby Keita and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain be his midfield options going forward.
Another positive for the Reds is the news that Andy Robertson is back fit after sustaining an injury in pre-season. However, Kostas Tsimikas has played very well covering for the Scottish captain and probably doesn’t deserve to lose his place in the team.
In attack, Diogo Jota seems to have beaten out Roberto Firmino for the time being as the Red’s middleman in the front three with Salah and Mane both looking back in good form. All four of the Reds frontmen have already netted a goal this season, which will please manager Klopp, Jota scoring twice.
The home side opened the season with a 3-0 win over Norwich at Carrow Road, Jota, Firmino and Salah scoring the goals and they followed that with a 2-0 home win over Burnley where Jota and Mane netted.
With Fabinho and Oxlade-Chamberlain back after missing the game last week with Burnley, the Reds are pretty much at full-strength for this clash against one of their main Premier League title rivals.
Liverpool (4-3-3) – Probable Team – Alisson (GK), Alexander Arnold (DR), Robertson (DL), Van Dijk (DC), Matip (DC), Henderson (DMC), Fabinho (DMC), Keita (AMC), Mane (AML), Salah (AMR), Jota (AC)
After losing the FA Cup Final last season to Leicester City, Chelsea composed themselves to earn Champions League success against Manchester City last season, claiming the first trophy under new manager Thomas Tuchel.
Tuchel has addressed a real need in his squad by re-signing ex-Chelsea striker Romelu Lukaku from Inter Milan and on his second debut for the club, Lukaku netted one of Chelsea’s goals in their 2-0 win over Arsenal last weekend. Right back Reece James was the other scorer.
That result came after an opening day 3-0 win over Crystal Palace where goals from Marcos Alonso, Christian Pulisic and Trevor Chalobah handed the European Champions a very comfortable 3-0 victory over Patrick Vieira’s team.
Tuchel has remained faithful to his 3-4-2-1 formation that he likes to play although there may be some changes for this game with N’Kolo Kante returning to fitness and Christian Pulisic ruled out.
As such, I expect the back line to be unchanged from last weekend’s big win over Arsenal, with Kante coming into midfield for Kovacic. Mount and Havertz will likely be the attacking midfield options with Lukaku once again the big man in attack.
Chelsea (4-3-3) – Probable Team – Mendy (GK), Azpilicueta (DC), Christensen (DC), Rudiger (DC), Kante (DMC), Jorginho (DMC), James (DMR), Alonso (DML), Mount (AMC), Havertz (AMC), Lukaku (AC)
What Are Our Tips For The Game?
Liverpool against Chelsea has produced some classic games over the years. A couple of years ago Liverpool won 5-3 in an entertaining game at Anfield and in recent times, Liverpool have had the upper hand with five wins out of the last seven encounters between the teams.
However, Chelsea did win at Anfield last season, deservedly so, and after their good start and Champions League triumph last year, they will be confident of getting another positive result here.
That said, Virgil Van Dijk’s return for Liverpool has really solidified them defensively and with their attack scoring goals and, perhaps more importantly, pressing much better this season, the Reds look a force to be reckoned with once again and they do have home advantage here.
This will be a close one, but I would go for Liverpool to land the win, probably by a 2-1 scoreline.
Ian has been a lifelong avid poker player, and is also well-versed in the worlds of online sports betting, casino gaming, and the burgeoning eSports industry. UK-based Ian has written for several years for a wide variety of online publications, and is especially adept at bringing readers inside the latest and greatest games.