Thomas Tuchel expects an upgraded Liverpool from the one he met last March. Chelsea travel to Anfield later today.
Today sees one of the biggest games of the entire season as Chelsea come to Anfield. This is two out-and-out title contenders, two of the last three Champions League winners, and two real rivals over the last 20 years.
It’ll be the first real test for both sides, too. Each sits on maximum points after two games with the same goal-difference – five.
Chelsea will want to see if their form under Tuchel continues, where they’ve enjoyed fantastic success in big games. It’s a test of Romelu Lukaku, as well, and how quickly he can fit in.
As for Liverpool, it’s clear what they want to know. Is this team as good as it was two years ago? Can it still play like the best in the world after all those injuries?
There were plenty of injuries, of course. Liverpool lost all of their senior centre-backs last season, while Jordan Henderson didn’t play post-February.
And it’s for that reason that Thomas Tuchel believes this is a very different Liverpool to the one he faced in March.
Tuchel on Liverpool
“That’s the reality and we should not hide from it,” Tuchel said of Liverpool’s returns, per the Liverpool Echo. “Liverpool with [Virgil] Van Dijk is a different Liverpool than without Van Dijk.
“It’s not only his isolated capacity and level of performance but also that he makes everyone around him feel more comfortable and be stronger.
“Together with [Joel] Matip, it is a huge upgrade to last March.”
Chelsea beat Liverpool 1-0 at Anfield back then. It was a very different Reds team – no Van Dijk, no Matip, no Joe Gomez, no Jordan Henderson. In fact, Nat Phillips missed it, too.
So Tuchel is right – this is a very different team. It’s upgraded at the back, in particular, and Chelsea can expect a very different game.