Ouch­line us­sle

> Chelsea’s early chance to go top in Klopp vs Conte an­tics show­down

The Sun (Malaysia) - - SPORTS -

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


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