The new Friday night kick-off in the Premier League this season will see a crunch game this weekend as Chelsea’s new boy Antonio Conte takes on Liverpool’s Jürgen Klopp for the first time in a competitive encounter. The duo already faced off in a pre-season game in the International Champions Cup where Conte came out victorious but Liverpool look a completely different squad from that side that lost 1-0 to the Blues. This game at the Bridge promises to be a sizzling encounter with two sides playing contrast styles of football. It is hard to predict a winner from this game, but here are three things Liverpool should be wary of in their trip to the Bridge.
Diego Costa’s antics and his footballing ability
Liverpool manager Jürgen Klopp urged his team to try and reach the levels of aggression that Diego Costa is known for on the field. The manager spoke about the importance of the striker to the Blues who has been in sizzling form.
He has already scored a couple of winners and an equaliser late in the games in the league this season and has established himself as one of the best in the league already. He has had a good time against Liverpool in the past and will hope that he can lead his side to victory at the Bridge on the night. The likes of Joel Matip and Dejan Lovren (if he plays), will have a huge role to play and will have to work hard to keep the Spaniard away from harms reach on the night.
Antonio Conte’s ingenuity
The former Italian boss is not new to high profile games and has always had a nag of getting his team to its best against top class opposition. He may have failed a couple of times like in the EURO 16 against Germany but is usually spot on with his tactics and team set-up to get the better of his opponents. The manager is yet to face any of the top 5 sides from the previous season in the Premier League but will not be fazed by a clash against one of the most exciting managers in Europe in Jürgen Klopp.
This is his first real test since taking over the Stamford Bridge outfit and there is no doubt that he can get all three points with the help of his home crowd against the Reds on Friday. Liverpool will have to make sure that they can match the quality and balance in the Chelsea side and Klopp will have to set his team up against a side that will not allow them to play their natural game. This game is a clash between two different minds and will be a fight for early supremacy in the league.
Klopp’s team selection
The first two things are out of the control of the Merseyside outfit but one thing that they should make no mistakes about is their team selection. Dejan Lovren is reportedly back in training and may play this game, adding some mettle to the defence. Emre Can has been ruled out reducing a bit of a headache for Klopp but Phillipe Coutinho is no longer jet-lagged and Klopp has to take a decision on who to drop to get the Brazilian back in.
Coutinho is one of the first names on the team-sheet for the Reds for some time now and it will not be easy for Klopp to drop him. But the trio of Daniel Sturridge, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino worked wonders against Leicester City and it will be hard to drop any of the three on the night. Klopp has an important decision to make and he will have to get the right balance in the squad to make sure that his team can get the better of the hosts on the night.