> Chelsea’s early chance to go top in Klopp vs Conte antics showdown
The way Chelsea let Swansea back into the match suggested the vulnerability that plagued them last season, when they finished 10th, continues to hover below the surface.
Last season’s corresponding fixture, in late October, saw Klopp pull off the first eye-catching result of his nascent Liverpool tenure as the visitors recorded an impressive 3-1 win.
If the teams’ last encounter, in a pre-season friendly in the United States, is anything to go by, today’s game beneath the floodlights could be a spicy affair.
Chelsea midfielder Cesc Fabregas was sent off for an ugly foul on Ragnar Klavan, while Liverpool’s Marko Grujic had to go to hospital following a clash of heads with Bertrand Traore.
It could also be spectacular. The two teams average more shots on goal per game than any other sides in the division, while Liverpool’s players have covered more distance than any other team.
Croatian centreback Dejan Lovren is due to return for Liverpool, following a head injury, in place of Lucas Leiva, whose error against Leicester gift-wrapped a goal for Jamie Vardy.
But Germany midfielder Emre Can remains absent with an ankle injury.
David Luiz is expected to make his second debut for Chelsea, five years and seven months after his first appearance for the club, which coincidentally came in a home game against Liverpool.
The Brazil centreback, 29, returned to Chelsea from Paris SaintGermain on transfer deadline day for a reported fee of £32million (RM175m).
Luiz, previously a Chelsea player between 2011 and 2014, is likely to replace captain John Terry, who has been ruled out for 10 days with ankle ligament damage sustained at Swansea.
Victory would only put Chelsea top for less than 24 hours should Manchester City, still defending a 100% record since Pep Guardiola took the reins, then defeat Bournemouth, a team they have Leicester City’s Riyad Mahrez (No. 26)) scores from a freekick during their Champions League match against Club Brugge at the Jan Breydelstadion in Belgium yesterday. never lost to, at the Etihad tomorrow.
Everton sit just behind Chelsea in third place and will be favourites to pick up another three points against Middlesbrough, particularly now that Romelu Lukaku, who scored a hattrick against Sunderland on Monday, is back among the goals.
Leicester will hope their debut Champions League victory in Bruges yesterday will give them impetus to push their way back up the table after a poor start to their title defence as they entertain promoted Burnley.
Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho will be looking for an early response from his players, whom he felt lacked the right mentality to win last week’s Manchester derby.
A trip to Watford, who were buoyed by last week’s stirring comeback win at West Ham United, will test their mettle.
Stoke City’s Mark Hughes and West Bromwich Albion’s Tony Pulis are the managers most in need of wins, against Crystal Palace and West Ham respectively, as earlyseason pressure begins to build. – Agencies