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Liverpool vs Chelsea: Combined XI

Who would make a best XI of the two struggling giants?

Ninth play tenth, but not as you know it, in the Premier League this weekend as Liverpool play host to Chelsea on Saturday.

Both sides are miles away from their pre-season aspirations, with much of the talk ahead of the campaign about who would join the pair and Manchester City in the top four come May. Fast forward four months, however, and both sit 10 points away from fourth-placed Newcastle United, and a massive 19 points behind Premier League leaders Arsenal.

A win for either could lift them as high as sixth should results go their way, but with neither side tearing up trees since the season resumed after the World Cup, it is hard to predict which way the game will go.

It’s hard too, to pick an XI of players from the pair combined, let alone for Jurgen Klopp and Graham Potter to try and name one each at the weekend.

Nonetheless, we took a stab at what it might look like.

GK: Alisson

Currently ninth, Liverpool could be doing far worse this season if not for the heroics of Alisson in between the posts for the Reds. He currently tops the Premier League for goals prevented, having kept 8 out more than expected, while his 61 saves ranks him fourth in the top flight. With Kepa Arrizabalaga continuing to fail to inspire confidence for the Blues, it was a no brainer to include the Brazilian.

RB: Trent Alexander-Arnold

The Englishman will have a key role to play in the tie between the pair on Saturday, likely tasked with stopping new Blues signing Mykhaylo Mudryk as well as contributing offensively too.

CB: Joel Matip

In the absence of Virgil Van Dijk, Matip will be asked to step up in a big way in the Reds defence with Ibrahima Konate struggling for form. With Chelsea equally hap-hazard at the back as it stands and Kalidou Koulibaly yet to impress since his move from Napoli in the summer, there is little to choose between the options in the heart of defence.

CB: Thiago Silva

The best player in the Chelsea side so far this season, Thiago Silva continues to excel even at 38 years old, and has been a consistent star for the Blues under both Thomas Tuchel and now under Graham Potter.

Unlikely to be removed from the side any time soon, he has already become a Chelsea legend, and will be a key part of their starting XI until time finally catches up with the defender.

LB: Andy Robertson

Again, the injury to Ben Chilwell has made this a much easier decision than it otherwise would have been, but while Robertson has been affected by his side’s struggles, he continues to set records with his delivery into the box, and has struck up a strong partnership down the left flank with new signing Darwin Nunez.

CM: Mateo Kovacic

We asked the editor if it was possible to have a team without a midfield given how the two sides have fared this season. It wasn’t. With both Denis Zakaria and N’Golo Kante injured and Jorginho well below par, Mateo Kovacic has been okay without tearing up trees so far this season for the Blues. The Croat continues to suffer without a more dominating presence next to him, however.

CM: Fabinho

The Brazilian has been well below par this season, having earned a reputation as one of the best defensive midfielders in World Football. Despite his rocky form in the past months, however, there is no doubting his underlying quality. The problem is that midtable Liverpool need him to find that quality sooner rather than later.

CM: Mason Mount

The 24-year-old is another one going through a tough period, with it still unclear where his best position is in this Chelsea side. Like Fabinho, however, his ability is well above the current level that he is showing.

With Mykhaylo Mudryk and Joao Felix soon to be ahead of him, there is hope that he may rediscover his creative fluency under Potter.

RW: Mohamed Salah

Like most in either side, Salah is struggling to find his stride this season, but still has the most goals of any player in either Liverpool red or Chelsea blue in the Premier League this season with seven.

The Egyptian remains his side’s biggest threat even without any consistent rhythm, and though a golden boot is undoubtedly beyond his this season, few would bet against him scoring against his former club.

ST: Darwin Nunez

It has been a mixed start to life on Merseyside for Darwin Nunez since he arrived from Portugal in the summer, with a red card denting any early progress and the Uruguayan topping the charts for most big chances missed in the Premier League.

But, he continues to cause havoc on a regular basis, and has five goals and two assists to his name so far this campaign. Certainly one to be watched this weekend.

LW: Cody Gakpo

With injuries ruling out all of Christian Pulisic, Raheem Sterling, Diogo Jota, Luis Diaz and Roberto Firmino, both sides’ attacks have a somewhat makeshift look to them at present.

New signings Cody Gakpo and Mykhaylo Mudryk are likely to face off against each other this weekend, and though both are exciting, Gakpo offers the more proven option, with the Dutchman having starred at the World Cup for the Netherlands.

Though he’s yet to make a mark at Anfield, we expect him and Mudryk both to come good with time.

(Photo by Steve Flynn/News Images) 2M75YW7 Cody Gakpo #18 of Liverpool during the Emirates FA Cup Third Round match Liverpool vs Wolverhampton Wanderers at Anfield, Liverpool, United Kingdom, 7th January 2023

(Photo by Steve Flynn/News Images) (Alamy Stock Photo)

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Ben Browning

Football writer and analyst. Long-time writer of all things Arsenal and avid watcher of European football. Happy to discuss all things football over on Twitter.

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