Van Dijk vs. Werner presents battle to watch as Mane ‘magic’ offers potent threat to Chelsea

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A new-look Chelsea attack will cause Liverpool problems on Sunday, but are Blues supporters confident of downing the champions?

Jurgen Klopp‘s men got their season off to an unconvincing start last weekend, seeing off an energetic Leeds side 4-3 at Anfield.

Defensively, Liverpool were shoddy at times and they will need to be much improved in that area on Sunday afternoon.

The Reds visit a Chelsea side who have spent big this summer, bringing in the likes of Kai Havertz, Ben Chilwell, Hakim Ziyech and once Red target Timo Werner.

Frank Lampard’s side started their campaign with a 3-1 victory at Brighton, suggesting they could be title contenders, although that may become clearer come the end of the weekend.

With kickoff close, we spoke to Chelsea fan and writer Oli Birch (@OliBirch1) to get his thoughts on both sides and the upcoming meeting.

 

After a busy summer, this must be a positive time to be a Chelsea fan…

LONDON, ENGLAND - Sunday, September 22, 2019: Chelsea's manager Frank Lampard applauds the supporters after the FA Premier League match between Chelsea's FC and Liverpool FC at Stamford Bridge. Liverpool won 2-1. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

It’s a really exciting time to be a Chelsea fan, especially after having to deal with the transfer ban.

We needed to strengthen despite a good season last campaign and we’ve clearly done just that, and in the right areas as well.

I don’t know a Chelsea supporter who isn’t excited about this season.

 

Which new signing are you most excited about?

Chelsea's Timo Werner during the Premier League match at the AMEX Stadium, Brighton (Glyn Kirk/PA)

Even though Kai Havertz has cost the most out of the summer recruits, it’s Timo Werner who I am most excited by.

Tammy Abraham and Olivier Giroud were both good enough last season, but I felt as though we needed another top striker to really help us make a proper push for the title once again and Werner definitely fits that bill.

I was looking forward to seeing him anyway, prior to his performance in the win over Brighton, but now I can’t wait to watch him again and again after his display on Monday.

He looked so sharp and dangerous throughout and he looks like he has everything a top Premier League striker needs.

 

Is Lampard the man to guide you to greater things?

LONDON, ENGLAND - Sunday, August 18, 2019: Chelsea's manager Frank Lampard applauds the supporters after the FA Premier League match between Chelsea's FC and Leicester City FC at Stamford Bridge. The game ended in a 1-1 draw. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

It has been a widely debated topic this summer, but I think Frank Lampard has got what it takes to manage us to Premier League and Champions League titles in the future.

Yes, it’s incredibly early on in his managerial career to make such a call, but he has got the experience of winning multiple titles as a player, so he knows what kind of manager it takes to achieve such success.

To also achieve a fourth-place finish and an FA Cup final last season, considering we had just lost Eden Hazard and couldn’t replace him due to the transfer ban, shows he has got the managerial qualities required to get the best out of his players.

There will be a lot of pressure on his shoulders this season after the summer spending spree, but I am fully behind him.

 

What will constitute a good season for the Blues?

It sounds obvious, but considering what we did last season, I think a good season would be us winning the FA Cup or the League Cup and challenging Liverpool and Man City more at the top of the league.

That’s why Lampard will be under such pressure because even though that would constitute a good season, it will be the bare minimum for him, you would imagine.

 

As for Liverpool, are you expecting them to retain their title?

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Saturday, September 12, 2020: Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah celebrates after scoring the winning fourth goal, his hat-trick, from a penalty-kick to make the score 4-3 during the opening FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Leeds United FC at Anfield. The game was played behind closed doors due to the UK government’s social distancing laws during the Coronavirus COVID-19 Pandemic. Liverpool won 4-3. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Personally, I don’t think they will have enough to retain the title.

They have performed at such a high level for the last couple of seasons that a slight drop-off in form just seems inevitable.

I don’t know whether they will have what it takes to maintain that mentality to grind out results when they’re not at their best in games.

On top of that, I always think title winners need to improve in at least one area in the transfer window, or at the minimum add a bit of strength in depth, but I don’t think Liverpool have done that.

One or two injuries could really hurt them.

That being said, I still think they will challenge for the league, but I can see City pipping them to it.

 

Looking ahead to Sunday’s game, who do you fear most for the Reds?

SALZBURG, AUSTRIA - Tuesday, August 25, 2020: Liverpool's Sadio Mané during a preseason friendly match between FC Red Bull Salzburg and Liverpool FC at the Red Bull Arena. (Pic by Propaganda)

Sadio Mane, for me.

I know Mohamed Salah would seem the obvious choice considering his goalscoring record and after his hat-trick last weekend, but for me Mane is one of Liverpool’s most important players.

His selflessness and work-rate is always excellent, and even if he is not having his best game he is one of those players who can just pop up with a moment of magic out of nowhere.

 

Where do you see the key battles taking place?

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Saturday, September 12, 2020: Liverpool’s Virgil van Dijk during the opening FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Leeds United FC at Anfield. The game was played behind closed doors due to the UK government’s social distancing laws during the Coronavirus COVID-19 Pandemic. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Even though I fear Mane the most, I think the match-up between him and Reece James down Chelsea’s right and Liverpool’s left could be really intriguing to watch.

Werner coming up against Virgil van Dijk is another exciting prospect, as I think Werner’s pace and willingness to run in behind defences could trouble the defender and maybe force him into another error like we saw against Leeds.

 

Finally, hit us with your prediction…

LONDON, ENGLAND - Sunday, August 18, 2019: Chelsea's Mason Mount celebrates scoring the first goal during the FA Premier League match between Chelsea's FC and Leicester City FC at Stamford Bridge. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Chelsea looked second-best for large periods against Brighton so we will have to significantly improve to get a result this weekend.

Liverpool also looked uncharacteristically shaky at the back at times against Leeds, though, so it could be an open game.

I am gonna put my neck on the line and say Chelsea to win 2-1, with Werner and Mason Mount getting the goals.

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