Match Preview: Liverpool vs. Chelsea — Super Cup 2019

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It’s a return to the home of arguably the greatest night in Liverpool’s history tomorrow evening as they head to Istanbul to face Europa League winners Chelsea in the Super Cup.

A chance to win the first of six potential trophies this season, it won’t be an occasion Liverpool will be looking to take lightly; with it marking the first ever encounter between two English sides in the competition, history is set to be made.

We’ve brought together Anfield Edition writers Laurie (@LFCLaurie), Zac (@ZacLBell), Taylor (@TPowlingSport) and Owen (@OwenZonal) to pick their preferred starting line-ups and predictions for the game.

Laurie:

I’ve seen some fans undermining the importance of the Super Cup and I don’t quite understand why. While our priorities will always be the league and Champions League, it’s still a first opportunity to win silverware and hopefully set the tone for the rest of the season. Unlike the Community Shield which is effectively a glorified friendly, the Super Cup is recognised as a competitive fixture by UEFA and should therefore be treated as such.

Having said that, the game still marks the ideal chance to rotate the team slightly without effecting rhythm; we’ve got plenty of options this campaign, especially in midfield so may as well use them.

The goalkeeper choice is a straightforward one following Alisson’s injury, with Adrian coming in and Lonergan taking his place on the bench. I was never fully convinced by Adrian at West Ham, especially considering he hasn’t played regular football for a substantial period of time. I hope he just manages to do the basics well and proves me wrong until Alisson is ready to return.

With Robertson and Alexander-Arnold nailed on at full-back, along with Van Dijk, the only dilemma is between who partners the Dutchman: Matip or Gomez. While Gomez got the nod against Norwich and put in an okay performance, I felt it was harsh on Matip to be dropped after such a stellar end to last season. It should really have been his spot to lose and he deserves to start tomorrow night and again give Klopp a real headache between the two.

The midfield is where I’d most look to switch things up. Our depth in the centre of the park is strong so it would be strange not to take advantage of that. While Fabinho is a sure-fire starter, and I’d also go with Henderson, the final spot in the trio should go to Oxlade-Chamberlain. While perhaps slightly risky, he gives us that attacking impetus and dynamism that we need in midfield; he desperately needs minutes after his return from injury and it would be the perfect opportunity for him to get that. While Naby Keita should have been guaranteed a start, an apparent injury in training makes that unlikely and I expect us to veer on the side of caution; his reliability is becoming a real concern.

With Mane looking lively on Friday, it’s time to reunite the front three. While Origi had a solid outing against the Canaries and got himself a goal, if Mane, Firmino and Salah are all fit, they start and it’s as simple as that.

My preferred XI: Adrian, Alexander-Arnold, Matip, Van Dijk, Robertson, Fabinho, Henderson, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Salah, Firmino, Mane

There is no disputing that the 4-0 margin of defeat was extremely harsh on Chelsea on Sunday; they were unlucky in hitting the post numerous times and United were just able to pick them apart on the counterattack.

While that defeat has given our fans the sense that this will be an easy victory, I wouldn’t be as confident. It’ll still be a difficult game as they’ll be raring to go, although our attack will end up being too much for them.

Prediction: Liverpool 2-1 Chelsea

Zac:

Adrian will earn his full Liverpool debut following the unfortunate injury of Alisson. Hopefully he can show his worth as he’s been doubted by some on social media this week ⁠— unwarranted criticism if you ask me.

Liverpool’s defence has been unusually shaky in recent weeks and that showed on Saturday against Norwich. For that reason, I’ve stuck with the exact same back four. I believe it will be beneficial to keep them as a unit rather than mixing things up. Klopp had a decision to make going into the season: Matip or Gomez. He went for Gomez, and now they need to continue that partnership. I do feel like Matip was somewhat hard done by, and I would’ve started the season with him alongside Van Dijk simply because I felt it was his position to lose, but I’m perfectly happy for Gomez to continue where he left off last season.

In midfield, I think it’s vitally important that Oxlade-Chamberlain gets some solid minutes here. He has a big season ahead and he has an important role to play if he’s firing. I really hope he starts. I opted for Milner for rotation reasons. I wanted to include Keita but he picked up a knock on Tuesday evening. Wijnaldum and Hendo can have a rest.

Sadio Mane must start, he needs minutes under his belt and I’m looking forward to his return. Origi put in a good shift on Friday against Norwich, and although he deserves to start our next Premier League game, you never really know what version of Origi will turn up. Inconsistency worries me slightly. He’s signed a new contract, he’s in form, he’s in high spirits, and it would feel harsh to bench him, but we have to be honest with ourselves and say he isn’t anywhere near the level of any of our front three to displace them. That’s why Mane needs to start, he needs rhythm and this Chelsea game provides the perfect opportunity to implement him back into the fold. Salah and Firmino both look incredibly sharp and keep their place. Hopefully Shaqiri can get some minutes under his belt too at some point too.

My preferred XI: Adrian, Alexander-Arnold, Gomez, Van Dijk, Robertson, Fabinho, Milner, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Salah, Firmino, Mane

If Chelsea’s performance against Manchester United was anything to go by, this should be a simple task. That said, I wouldn’t underestimate Chelsea. They were naive on the weekend but that could serve as a reality check and surely a hammering similar to Sunday won’t happen again?

Prediction: Liverpool 2-0 Chelsea (a moderate loss for the Blues in the circumstances)

Taylor:

Whilst the Super Cup may not be the most coveted trophy on offer, silverware this early in the campaign could be pivotal in acting as a morale boosting springboard for the rest of the season and for that reason I see Jurgen Klopp taking this game very seriously.

As has been well documented, Liverpool will be without first choice goalkeeper Alisson Becker after the Brazilian suffered a calf injury and summer signing Adrian is in line for a first Liverpool start.

Joel Matip could count himself unfortunate to have found himself on the bench in the Reds’ Premier League opener on Friday night against Norwich City with Joe Gomez preferred to partner Virgil van Dijk. However, the Englishman, coming off the back of a long-term injury, looked shaky vs the Canaries and for that reason I can see Matip taking his place. Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andy Robertson are near certainties to continue to provide the attacking width.

Perhaps the biggest enigma lies regarding the midfield. Naby Keïta, James Milner and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain were all named on the bench on Friday, with Adam Lallana also an option, and it isn’t inconceivable that Klopp rotates the entire midfield. I’d personally love to see Keïta and Oxlade-Chamberlain partner each other, but I see just the one change with Henderson retaining his place and Oxlade-Chamberlain replacing Gini Wijnaldum. Keita would have been my first-choice, but having seemingly picked up an injury in training today, I doubt he’ll be risked.

Sadio Mané came off the bench on Friday and, with minutes now under his belt, I can see him linking back up with Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino to reignite Liverpool’s tantalising forward trio. Looking at Chelsea’s defensive lapses against Manchester United it seems inevitable that the Reds should find plenty of attacking joy against Frank Lampard’s men.

Preferred starting XI: Adrian, Alexander-Arnold, Matip, Van Dijk, Robertson, Fabinho, Henderson, Oxlade-Chamberlain; Salah, Firmino, Mane

If Chelsea have learnt their lessons from Sunday then I can’t see them being as open as they were at Old Trafford, but nevertheless I think our forward line will be too much for the Stamford Bridge outfit to handle and we’ll bring home a European trophy from Istanbul once again.

Prediction: Liverpool 3-1 Chelsea

Owen:

Adrian is of course a no brainer. I’d like to Trent to be given a rest to keep him fresh, which would mean Gomez filling in at right-back and allowing Matip to partner Van Dijk at the heart of the defence.

Henderson can retain his place, with Milner and Oxlade-Chamberlain coming in. I’m excited to see more of Keita but he seemed to be in discomfort during training so I can’t see him starting. I hope to see more of him though.

A bit of an unorthodox front three, but I’m going with Shaqiri, Firmino and Origi. Mane shouldn’t be brought in just yet given his limited pre-season and brief cameo against Norwich. Shaqiri should be given his chance to stake a claim for his place in the game.

My preferred XI: Adrian, Gomez, Matip, Van Dijk, Robertson, Henderson, Milner, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Shaqiri, Firmino, Origi

I expect this to be relatively straightforward given Chelsea’s performance against United.

Prediction: Liverpool 2-0 Chelsea