By James Miller – @JimmyMiller2608
Following English dominance on the European stage during the 2018/19 campaign, the Premier League will boast of having two sides compete for the UEFA Super Cup. In addition, the match will provide the opportunity for the first ever female officiate in a men’s major final.
A remarkable campaign on all fronts was subsequently rounded off with four English sides competing for two of the most prestigious trophies in world football.
The Champions League took centre stage on June 1st, as a taste of Merseyside showered in Madrid on the way to Liverpool washing Tottenham away.
Beforehand in Baku, a fiery London derby proved to be a final farewell for hero Eden Hazard – who picked up man of the match – along with manager Maurizio Sarri, as the Blues ran out convincing 4-1 winners.
Now, Liverpool and Chelsea will face off in Istanbul for the UEFA Super Cup.
Premier League opening
For the second time in just three days, Chelsea legend Frank Lampard will prepare his bemused Blues for a tough encounter against top six opposition, this time in the Super Cup.
Amidst all the excitement surrounding the return of Premier League, fundamental problems inside Stamford Bridge had someone been overlooked, until being exposed by a fresh Manchester United on matchday one.
On the other hand, Chelsea travelled to Manchester for a sumptuous top six clash with United. A fairly even affair in the first half, it quickly went downhill for Frank Lampard on his managerial bow at the club. A youthful Blues side were off the pace as the game dragged on, eventually suffering a 4-0 drubbing rounded off by Daniel James on his debut.
The Reds who currently sit third in the table, having blown away the Canaries in the first half of what looked to be a rout initially. After the break Daniel Farke’s side appeared more stabilised defensively, and mixed with the sharp attacking intent going forward, they were able to get a positive second half result at Anfield.
Overall, neither manager will be fully satisfied. The general feeling is still that both sides must improve in various aspects. Defensively there is almost certainly room for improvement.
Liverpool in particular looked slightly confused at the back, as Norwich found themselves creating numerous opportunities in behind.
As for Chelsea, a clear lack of experience in the latter stages looked to be detrimental. A side without last season’s regulars in Antonio Rudiger, N’Golo Kante and, of course, the departed Eden Hazard, appeared disorganised and often confused.
With competitive football not long upon and running again, it is hard to construct a firm conclusion as to what level either side are performing at.
Both sides have been on the receiving end of a solitary defeat in the last five fixtures. Liverpool were handed a disappointing loss against Italian side Napoli in pre-season and Chelsea were, of course, beaten by Manchester United on Sunday.
Analysing form merely from the previous five fixtures, there has been several factors for Klopp and Lampard to assess moving forward, some positive, some not so. A Chelsea side full of youth were able to claim three wins on the trot, including the scalp of Barcelona at the Camp Nou.
In regard to Liverpool’s form, it would be fair to say that pre-season was far from their usual scintillating best. As various first-team stars jetted off to represented their nations, it left a small group for pre-season.
However, the European Champions appear to have sharpened up ready for the challenges ahead. A tough Community Shield against Manchester City allowed the Reds to broadcast their brilliant ability and then it was followed up with a quality display in some respects. Klopp’s side will be tough to beat this season, you would think.
Klopp will be deprived of two of his trusted No.1, Alisson Becker, after he picked up a calf injury against Norwich. However, one mans misery is likely to lead to another’s joy, with late arrival Adrián set to fill the void left by the Brazilian.
Besides the loss of experienced full-back Nathaniel Clyne for would could be most of the season, the German has a fairly fresh squad to choose from.
There are concerns about Naby Keita, however, as the Guinean hobbled out of training early on Thursday. He hasn’t been fully fit since May, with his exploits at the African Cup of Nations proving to have aggravated the situation somewhat.
Senegalese forward Sadio Mané could be in contention to start, but it is suggested the in-form Belgian Divock Origi may once again get the nod wide left after looking good against the Canaries.
There are suggestions that the German could make changes in order to freshen up his squad. Defender Joel Matip is expected to come back into the side, while the returning James Milner could also be included.
Lampard will be a man significantly more worried regarding injuries. Academy graduates in Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Callum Hudson-Odoi remain sidelined.
Key defensive asset Antonio Rüdiger has been out since April having picked up a severe injury against the Reds. His sustained knee injury has healed, but he will likely only make the bench instead of being thrusted into the first XI. The same likely applies to Willian.
N’golo Kanté has also aggravated an existing worry in recent days, and looks unlikely to appear for the Blues in Istanbul.
Derby’s former head man, may look to call upon a more experienced potent front line-up in Istanbul, with Olivier Giroud touted to start. Christian Pulisic could start after appearing from the bench at Old Trafford.
The last time the two sides faced off, it was a must win game for a Liverpool side firmly on the title charge. As the pressure continued to rise, there was little sign of crumbling as Chelsea found themselves on a long list of sides dispatched at Anfield.
A tense first 45 minutes were soon put to rest, as the ever reliable front line of established under Klopp, once more proved the difference. Mané opened the scoring, before a thunderbolt from the sensational Mohamed Salah, left the hosts in firm control.
An eventual 2-0 scoreline endured that the race for the Premier League title would not be ended by their London counterparts.
Although Liverpool were far from convincing in terms of defending against Norwich, the squad appears to be a lot more settled generally. As a unit, the Reds played some slick, eye-catching football and were very much clinical in front of goal.
Chelsea were very much opposing against Ole Gunnar Solskjær’s United, failing to find the net, even having created some promising chances. By the closing stages, the organisation appeared non existent, and with a side as ruthless as Liverpool, they may find themselves in trouble.
Prediction: Liverpool 3-0 Chelsea