Chelsea welcome Liverpool to Stamford Bridge on Sunday afternoon for their first Premier League match of 2022
Thomas Tuchel has faced Jurgen Klopp with four different clubs, losing a career-high nine matches against the manager who also went from Mainz 05 to Borussia Dortmund, although it won’t be long-time foe in the dugout this time after a positive Covid-19 test.
The current Chelsea boss is unbeaten in his last three meetings with Liverpool but had previously gone 11 matches without victory (D2 L9) against Klopp’s various clubs.
Here’s the XI Tuchel may deploy to get a rare win over his compatriot.
Edouard Mendy (GK) – For a keeper who so readily has his shot-stopping (rightly) lauded, the Senegal international isn’t too shabby with the ball at his feet as the goalkeeper most willing to keep his passing short in the Premier League.
Cesar Azpilicueta (CB) – Chelsea’s skipper has drawn more games against Liverpool (eight) than any other foe in his distinguished career (all but one by the same 1-1 scoreline oddly enough).
Trevoh Chalobah (CB) – Having replaced the flagging Andreas Christensen during the interval of Chelsea’s last outing, Chalobah may well retain that position from the start in the Dane’s continued absence.
Antonio Rudiger (CB) – Chelsea’s most used player this season has missed just one Premier League game all term.
Christian Pulisic (RWB) – Given the spate of defensive injuries – chiefly to Reece James but also to the squad’s spare centre backs which force Azpilicueta into the back-three – Pulisic may have to be shoehorned into an unnaturally defensive role again.
N’Golo Kante (CM) – One rare positive among the team’s nihilistic injury luck is the rapid return of Kante, a player who was unsurprisingly absent for the only two occasions Tuchel’s Chelsea have conceded more than two goals in the same game.
Jorginho (CM) – Since the start of last season, no Chelsea player has scored more Premier League goals than Jorginho (although all 13 have been penalties).
Mason Mount (CM) – No English player can better Mason Mount’s return of 12 direct goal involvements in this season’s Premier League (seven goals, five assists – matching his best return in the competition).
Marcos Alonso (LWB) – Chelsea dropped points in just one of the six consecutive Premier League matches Alonso missed in October and November but have collected 13 of an available 24 since Ben Chilwell’s injury thrust the Spaniard back into the team.
Kai Havertz (ST) – A stuttering Chelsea career hit another bump in the road with a bout of Covid-19 but, after return to the bench against Brighton, Havertz may face the side he scored against in August.
Romelu Lukaku (ST) – Chelsea’s record arrival goes into the match buoyed by consecutive scoring appearances but undercut by a controversial interview which was reportedly conducted weeks prior to its release in the game’s build up.