Both Jurgen Klopp and Frank Lampard need a response from their teams as Liverpool and Chelsea face-off in the fifth round of the FA Cup at Stamford Bridge on Tuesday.
Chelsea were lucky to gain a point away at Bournemouth last Saturday while Liverpool lost their first league game of the 2019/20 Premier League season.
Many pointed to including Dejan Lovren as Virgil van Dijk’s central defensive partner as the main cause for the defeat, but the earlier 3-2 win over West Ham had shown indications that teams were seemingly getting to grips with Klopp’s tactics and players.
Will Klopp’s men respond to the challenge or will Lampard develop belief in his players? In their previous two encounters this season, Liverpool won 2-1 at the Bridge and beat the Blues on penalties to win the UEFA Super Cup, a sign that this could be a very close affair.
Giroud v Matip
Klopp will drop Lovren for Joel Matip, who is back after injury and is a better man-marker than the Croat. Olivier Giroud is the only card Lampard can play, especially from the start with Tammy Abraham injured and Michy Batshuayi still at his indecisive best.
On his good day, Giroud is a handful for most defenders, but without an extra yard of space, he will look to feed on lofted balls, especially from the boots of Reece James.
James v Mane
The 20-year-old James has not been the most assured of defenders, and in Sadio Mane, he will be up against one of the very best inverted forwards in world football. Mane is quick, strong, and deceptive with James susceptible to losing concentration and dwelling on balls at his feet.
A lot will depend on how successful James is in keeping Mane in check.
Jorginho v Firmino
One area not going well for Chelsea is the transition from defence into attack because Jorginho is not the fastest and he has also been culpable when opponents launch fast counters.
In Roberto Firmino, Liverpool possess one of the best pressers of the ball and also a good user of the ball in offensive positions. Firmino will target getting the ball off Jorginho, or pressing the midfielder into making mistakes with his passing.
Alonso v Alexander-Arnold
Marcos Alonso scored Chelsea’s two goals in the much-needed 2-2 away result to Bournemouth while Trent Alexander-Arnold has provided 14 assists in the 38 matches he has played in this season.
This entails Alonso must be diligent in tracking the Liverpool full-back to prevent or minimise his efficacy in delivering telling balls into the Chelsea box.
Lampard v Klopp
Which team will Lampard send out against Liverpool on Tuesday? Will his selection continue to underwhelm? Will he persist with three at the back against Klopp’s tried and tested 4-3-3 formation?
Lampard said on his team’s website: “The team I put out should give everything to compete with Liverpool, as we have done twice this season. We competed very well against them and were probably unfortunate on both occasions to lose.”
For Klopp, whose team have not won the FA Cup since 2006 and he said in his pre-match press conference he will put out his best possible 11.
“Not because I don’t take this game so serious and think, ‘It is only the FA Cup and it’s at Chelsea and we will lose anyway’ or whatever. We are not like this, so we just try to do our best all the time.”