Liverpool travel to Stamford Bridge as Chelsea host Jurgen Klopp’s Reds in the FA Cup tonight with both sides entering the tie following poor results in the Premier League last week.
English champions-elect Liverpool suffered their first league defeat of the season as they were stunned 3-0 by strugglers Watford on Saturday, while Chelsea were forced to rescue a 2-2 draw at Bournemouth – another side fighting for top-flight survival – earlier in the day.
A key question heading into the fifth-round FA Cup fixture on Tuesday will be how Klopp looks to respond to Liverpool’s first league defeat in 44 matches. The German manager could potentially look to place greater emphasis on the tie than he would have before defeats to Atletico Madrid and Watford.
With Liverpool looking to keep improbable hopes of a treble firmly alive, we analyse three players we believe will have the most significant impact on how the match will potentially unfold…
Liverpool’s No.2 has enjoyed a fine display in his inaugural season at Anfield and will deservedly get the call-up upon his return to Stamford Bridge.
Adrian was in-between the sticks during the Reds’ 2-1 victory over Frank Lampard’s Blues in the Premier League back in September and made a number of vital saves to get his team over the line in the capital.
Lampard is, of course, likely to go near to full-strength with the FA Cup the Englishman’s most likely route to silverware this season.
Adrian was arguably Liverpool’s standout player in the first leg of Liverpool’s 2-2 draw with Shrewsbury last month and if it wasn’t for the impact of the Spaniard, the Reds’ could have certainly have been eliminated from the competition.
The former West Ham shot-stopper has proven time-and-time again that supporters needn’t worry when Alisson Becker is handed the rare evening off and this has largely been due to the immediate impact Adrian has had following on from his summer move to Anfield.
There were many raised eyebrows when Dejan Lovren was given the call-up to the first team at the expense of Matip considering the Cameroonian’s impact in the team over the past 12 months.
Matip was on top of the world at the start of the season. The Cameroonian was a European champion having starred in the Champions League victory against Tottenham and took his game to another level at the beginning of the 2019/20 campaign.
The former Schalke man was showcasing such inspiring consistency that in fact, that the PFA named him Player of the Month back in September. For a player who had been in the shadow of Virgil van Dijk, people were finally recognising Matip’s own qualities.
Interestingly, it was the same fixture earlier on in the season where Matip was finally beginning to be judged on a similar scale to Van Dijk following a MOTM display at the Bridge five months ago.
With Lovren getting the nod at the weekend you would expect that Matip will be reinstated for tonight’s bout.
Arguably Liverpool’s standout player in the competition this season. The young Scouser has been paramount in Klopp reaching the fifth round of the world’s oldest competition for the first time in his Liverpool tenure.
Having scored the winner against Merseyside rivals Everton back in January, Jones followed up his Anfield heroics with a goal at Meadow Lane during the 2-2 draw with Shrewsbury Town before captaining the team to glory in the replay at Anfield.
Jones has demonstrated that he has the talent and mentality required to make it at the top but a trip to Stamford Bridge will throw up something that the 19-year-old hasn’t experienced as of yet in his glowing Liverpool career.
The U23s captain has already demonstrated he can conjure up a moment of magic in the team’s hour of need but can the young playmaker exceed expectation when thrown against players already years ahead of his own development?
Jones’ performance will showcase whether he is ready to be entrusted with Premier League responsibility in the business end of the season for Liverpool. The English champions-elect will have to balance three competitions from now until the end of the season and Jones can help ease the selection burden for his manager.