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.
Liverpool have attempted 46 shots this season, more than any other side after the opening two rounds of top-flight fixtures.
Mohamed Salah has 98 Premier League goals, including two for Chelsea. The only African player to reach triple figures in the competition is Didier Drogba, who netted 104 goals for the Blues.
The Reds could also win their first three Premier League games without conceding a single goal, a feat they also achieved in 2013-14 and 2018-19.
The Blues are vying to win their opening three Premier League games without conceding for the fourth time, having previously done so in 2004-05, 2005-06 and 2010-11.
Chelsea have faced 10 shots in the 2021-22 Premier League, the fewest of any top-flight side after the first two matches.
Their five Premier League goals so far this season have been scored by five different players.