If Saturday’s match against Southampton had been a boxing match, Mark Hughes would have thrown the towel in at half time to prevent his fighters taking any more punishment. We romped into a 3-0 lead at the break courtesy of goals from Joel Matip, Mo Salah and an own goal from Wes Hoedt, and it could have perhaps been more.
The second period was something more akin to an exhibition match or training ground run out, with Liverpool taking their foot off the gas somewhat and Southampton doing everything they could to spoil the flow of the game.
It was a comfortable victory and one that showcased tactical ingenuity from Jurgen Klopp, which to be fair is not something we could normally credit the German with.
He decided to go with Salah up front and through the middle, with Roberto Firmino, Sadio Mane and Xherdan Shaqiri dovetailing as a trio in behind.
Bizarrely, for all the intelligence of our attacking play, it was from set pieces where we looked the most dangerous, and the tactical tweak offered a glimpse at a versatility which may be needed to help break down more stubborn opponents.
Coming a week after the victory over Spurs, we have maintained our fantastic 100% start to the campaign, and the subtle changes that took place over the summer appear to have strengthened the Reds’ resolve once more.
It’s unfortunate then that the momentum is disrupted by this rather frustrating Carabao Cup fixture against Chelsea; a competition that is surely fourth on Klopp’s list of priorities this term.
It does afford fringe players the chance to get some game time, and it’s a tournament which Klopp clearly appoints some importance to having reached the final and the semis within the last three seasons.
How will he play things against the Blues on Wednesday?
Liverpool Team News
With Premier League matches against Chelsea and Manchester City on the horizon as well as an away date at Napoli in the Champions League, Klopp will surely take this opportunity to give a rest to his key figures.
We would expect Simon Mignolet to deputise for Alisson in the sticks, with Alberto Moreno and Nathaniel Clyne stepping in for Andy Robertson and Trent Alexander-Arnold respectively.
Virgil van Dijk is struggling with bruised ribs – he was subbed off against the Saints, so we might see a first start of the campaign for Dejan Lovren, who is ‘really close’ to fitness according to the manager. He may be joined in defence by Joel Matip, who too needs game time.
In midfield, you suspect Klopp will opt for his traditional three-man set-up. Jordan Henderson hasn’t been overworked so far and may start, while Naby Keita only played 20 minutes at the weekend. This could also be the ideal juncture to introduce Fabinho to proceedings.
In attack, we would expect one of the golden trio to start and that might just be Mane, who Klopp sees as something of a workhorse. He will play on the left, presumably, with Shaqiri right and Daniel Sturridge through the middle.
Chelsea were going great guns up until the 0-0 draw with West Ham on Sunday.
They had also made the perfect start, with six wins from six in domestic and European duty.
But a lack of creativity in midfield cost them dearly against the Hammers, who may well have gone on to win the game had Andriy Yarmolenko not inexplicably missed when well placed.
Liverpool vs Chelsea Betting Tips
It’s a tough old proposition this for punters who are looking to place their bets before the starting elevens are announced.
We’ve done our best to second guess Klopp’s thinking here, and we would expect Sarri to be equally prone to making changes as well with a hectic schedule coming up.
So, we could be looking at Liverpool reserves vs Chelsea reserves here, although as you can see from the starting eleven detailed above the Reds still look a classy outfit on paper.
You can get odds of 5/6 on a Liverpool victory here, and that appears to be a value proposition given that Klopp has a habit of taking this competition seriously. He won’t want his side’s 100% record to be ended here.
Perhaps the Anytime Goalscorer market is one we can plunder for our wagers. There’s 17/10 available on Sturridge finding the net, Mane can be backed at 8/5 – huge value if he starts – and even Keita, at 3/1, looks worthy of a flutter.