Chelsea v Liverpool headlines the upcoming weekend and it might just be the biggest game of the entire Premier League season.
Yes, it’s only match-week two but Chelsea v Liverpool could be as big as it gets this season. The two have been rivals for the last 15 years, of course, but this meeting may define the Premier League season.
It’s not just two juggernauts going at it, after all. Nor is it merely two title contenders trying to come out on top. It’s a match where both clubs try to make their ultimate statement for the campaign.
Liverpool are the champions, of course. They were the finest team in England last season by a distance and deserved their title as much as anyone ever has.
Now comes another huge test – can they do it again? Well, early suggestions are they can’t. At least, they can’t perform as they did last season.
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First there was the Community Shield defeat to Arsenal. Liverpool simply didn’t play well. They couldn’t pass through midfield, struggled to stop counter-attacks and created virtually nothing. They were unfortunate to lose the shoot-out but the Reds certainly didn’t earn the shield in 90 minutes.
Then came Leeds United. Liverpool won the game but looked very, very shaky. They conceded twice in the opening 30 minutes, both from defensive errors. Liverpool didn’t concede twice in a Premier League game until December 4th last season but here they did it inside half an hour of the season’s start.
They’d even concede a third – something they didn’t do until February 29th in their title-winning campaign.
So we’re not off to the same start, in short, and there are doubts over Liverpool’s ability to recapture last year’s form.
Chelsea have gone all-in on transfers this summer. Five first-team players have arrived for around £170m – considerably more than Liverpool, then.
They’re exciting players, too. Thiago Silva joined from Paris Saint-Germain, brining plenty of experience. Ben Chilwell from Leicester City – one of the league’s best left-backs. Then Kai Havertz and Timo Werner will wear Blue next season – two players we hoped to see in Liverpool Red.
Will it be enough to power them towards a title-challenge? That’s the real question but with that kind of spend, they’ve got to expect to compete with Liverpool this season.
The BBC recently asked their pundits for top-four predictions. Now, no one had Chelsea down as champions but they comfortably had third sewn up. Three even had them above Liverpool (although, admittedly, all three had spells at Chelsea).
But the point is there – Chelsea are a force to be reckoned with. And Liverpool are under threat.
And so Liverpool have to face Chelsea with the mentality that this is the biggest game of their season. Simply for what it could means.
If Chelsea win, they’ll ride the wave of their new signings and make a statement that they can beat the best. And for Liverpool, there are more questions. After two shaky performances, are Liverpool even the same side anymore?
But a Reds win changes everything. It’s a huge statement right at the start of the season that they remain the team to beat. Doubts disappear and they’ve beaten a rival away from home despite not being in their best form.
It would also potentially cripple Chelsea. Liverpool have a chance to sew doubt into their new team for the rest of the season, letting them know that you can’t expect to match the champions with a spendy transfer window.
This is a huge game. If it isn’t the biggest, then there won’t be many bigger. But we may well look back on this one as as defining point in the season – we certainly expect to. Win, and Liverpool potentially eliminate a title contender and re-establish their credentials. Lose, and we can immediately see that this season won’t be like last year.
Roll on Sunday, then.