Chelsea and Liverpool are less than an hour away from kick-off at Stamford Bridge. Here are Antonio Conte’s and Jurgen Klopp’s starting XI’s.
The team sheets are in for Friday Night Football’s tilt at Stamford Bridge. As expected, Antonio Conte’s only change from the Swansea City game is David Luiz in for the injured John Terry. Branislav Ivanovic will captain Chelsea in Terry’s absence.
Article continues below ...
Chelsea (4-1-4-1): Courtois; Ivanovic (c), Cahill, David Luiz, Azpi; Kante; Willian, Oscar, Matic, Hazard; Costa. https://t.co/KUhoBXvWmu
In addition to the players, Conte is staying with the 4-1-4-1 formation he has played so far this season. While this formation has not yet imposed its will on an opponent this side of Burnley, it provides continuity and stability. That will be key for a squad without its usual skipper, whose absence is magnified by the question marks floating around David Luiz’s curls.
Notably missing from the substitutes is Nathaniel Chalobah, who will have to continue his wait for his first Chelsea appearance. Ola Aina returns to the bench alongside Marcos Alonso.
If the match is close after the first hour, Antonio Conte may wait for Jurgen Klopp to make the first substitute before countering with one of his own. Conte has waited until at least the 70th minute to make his substitutions. He will likely continue that trend to see how Klopp plans to run out the game before countering with either Cesc Fabregas or Michy Batshuayi.
None of Conte’s midfield or forward substitutes are particularly strong in two-way play. N’Golo Kante and Oscar will have to control the midfield for 90 minutes, with Nemanja Matic in support.
If Liverpool presses high into the last 20 minutes, Conte may bring Cesc Fabregas on accepting his defensive liabilities in the hopes that he can deliver a pinpoint pass to start a counter-attack. Victor Moses and Batshuayi can provide the finishing touch if the Blues are able to play a deep penetration into the Liverpool third. And Pedro, well, Pedro can confuse Liverpool with his erratic runs, perhaps confusing them so much that Chelsea can manufacture a goal.
Liverpool’s starting XI delivers the expected key match-ups. Nathaniel Clyne and Joel Matip will be the focal points of Liverpool’s attempts to shut down Eden Hazard and Diego Costa, respectively. All eyes will be on the Costa-Matip showdown, as Matip told the media he “doesn’t give a f***” about any Chelsea players trying to provoke him.
Sadio Mane and Phillippe Coutinho will threaten the Blues’ backline with high-speed runs down the flank. Branislav Ivanovic is most vulnerable to their pace along the wing. Despite wearing the captain’s armband, he may have to make way for the more agile Marcos Alonso if his immobility proves too much of a liability.