Two giants of the English game languishing in mid-table obscurity kick off this weekend’s Premier League action, as Liverpool take on Chelsea at Anfield on Saturday lunchtime.
The ninth-placed Reds and 10th-placed Blues only have 28 points to boast from their top-flight outings approaching the midway point of the season, although the hosts hold a game in hand over their capital counterparts.
Only a few days after being forced to witness the “worst” game of his Liverpool career in a 3-0 humbling at Brighton & Hove Albion, Jurgen Klopp got what he wanted in terms of a response when the Reds travelled to Wolverhampton Wanderers for their FA Cup third-round replay on Tuesday.
A wonder strike from Harvey Elliott booked Liverpool’s spot in the fourth round via a 1-0 triumph – and with it another trip to the Amex Stadium to face Brighton – as the Merseyside giants finally claimed their first victory of 2023 at the fourth attempt.
Defeat at the Amex marked the first time since 1993 that Liverpool had suffered back-to-back league losses at the start of the calendar year, and a season without European football beckons lest the Reds enjoy a remarkable turnaround in the coming months, as they are two points off Brighton in seventh and a further 10 adrift of the Champions League spots.
Not since a 1-0 loss to Fulham in March 2021 have Klopp’s men failed to score in a home Premier League match, and the German will take charge of his 1,000th game as a manager this weekend, no doubt eyeing a priceless three points to celebrate in the right way.
Speaking of esteemed teams finally winning their first fixture of the calendar year, Graham Potter’s Chelsea were indebted to both Thiago Silva and Kepa Arrizabalaga during the visit of Crystal Palace, but the West London powerhouses just about got over the line in a 1-0 triumph.
Having avoided a fourth game without victory in the Premier League, Chelsea are just about clinging onto their top-half spot in 10th place – behind Liverpool on goal difference and with an identical gap to make up to the top seven and Champions League places.
Potter continues to receive the backing of the Chelsea board, despite only winning two of his last 10 Premier League games at the helm, and the Blues have embarked on an abysmal five-game winless run away from home in the top flight since overcoming Aston Villa in October.
Both Premier League meetings between Liverpool and Chelsea ended level last term before the Reds overcame the Blues in the FA Cup and EFL Cup final on penalties, but Klopp’s side cannot rely on their 12-yard prowess to inflict more misery on the Blues here.