SOUVENIR PROGRAMME

Why Chelsea continue to “underwhelm” as Anfield test expected for Moises Caicedo

Liverpool are understandable favourites to beat Chelsea on Wednesday evening, but the Blues could be capable of beating anyone if and when they decide to ‘click’.

The Reds haven’t been in Premier League action since the 4-0 win away to Bournemouth on January 19, with successful domestic cup commitments taking up Liverpool’s time..

A huge midweek clash arrives at Anfield, however, as Jurgen Klopp‘s side host a Chelsea team who have again underwhelmed this season.

Mauricio Pochettino has struggled to make his mark, but there is still lots of the talent in their squad, and they could easily cause Liverpool problems.

Ahead of the game, we spoke to Chelsea fan Richard Long (@Chelseafan_Rick) to get the lowdown on another odd campaign at Stamford Bridge, the Reds’ title charge and much more.

 

How would you assess Chelsea’s season so far?

LONDON, ENGLAND - Sunday, August 13, 2023: Chelsea's Enzo Fernández during the FA Premier League match between Chelsea FC and Liverpool FC at Stamford Bridge. The game ended in a 1-1 draw. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Ultimately, the season has been very disappointing for Chelsea.

Whilst I wasn’t expecting us to be challenging for the Premier League title, I did expect to see a much improved Chelsea team with a clear identity in the way we play.

That hasn’t happened. We still don’t have a prolific striker that can lead the line, and we look so vulnerable out of possession.

The improvement on last season has been minimal, at best, and the team continues to underwhelm.

 

Do you have faith in Pochettino after a poor start?

MADRID, SPAIN - Friday, May 31, 2019: Tottenham Hotspur's manager Mauricio Pochettino during a press conference ahead of the UEFA Champions League Final match between Tottenham Hotspur FC and Liverpool FC at the Estadio Metropolitano. (Pic by Handout/UEFA)

I really want Mauricio Pochettino to succeed.

That’s partly because he does come across well and is easy to warm to, but also a worry that if he can’t succeed, then who can?

He’s got a brilliant reputation for developing young players and managing at the top level, so it’s fair to say he’s massively underperformed to date.

Recent form has improved, and in Poch’s defence, we’ve never had an injury crisis quite like the one this season with such big players likes Reece James and Christopher Nkunku not being available.

I think he does still have the majority of the fanbase supporting him, but it does feel like that could change at any moment if a couple of poor results arrive.

 

Who has stood out and struggled the most for Chelsea this season?

LONDON, ENGLAND - Sunday, August 13, 2023: Chelsea's Conor Gallagher (L) and Liverpool's Dominik Szoboszlai during the FA Premier League match between Chelsea FC and Liverpool FC at Stamford Bridge. The game ended in a 1-1 draw. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Our best player this season has been Conor Gallagher, without a doubt.

He is one of the few players that clearly gives it everything he’s got each game, and he has been a rare constant in the team.

Cole Palmer has also impressed in attack, and provides a bit of technical ability that is so often lacking from the rest of our strikers.

In terms of strugglers, there have certainly been a few that really haven’t been up to it.

Bizarrely, Pochettino often plays Axel Disasi and Levi Colwill at full-back, where they’ve looked horribly uncomfortable and made mistakes.

Enzo Fernandez has dropped off after a bright start last season and really needs to find himself in the team.

Technically, he’s excellent, but there are too many games that pass him by. When you’re a £100 million player, that just can’t happen as often as it is.

 

What’s one thing you would change at the club currently?

SHEFFIELD, ENGLAND - Tuesday, September 27, 2022: Germany's Jan Thielmann (R) icb England's Levi Colwill during the International friendly between England Under-21’s and Germany Under-21’s at Bramall Lane. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

I’d change the transfer strategy.

I’ve got great appreciation for the ownership investing in players, but it’s clear most of them are simply not yet at a level you would associate with the best Chelsea teams in recent years.

There must be a balance in any team between young talented players whilst having experienced players at the top of their game.

We simply have too many youngsters that need time to develop, and unfortunately, aren’t being afforded the luxury of time to do it by fans.

 

How do you assess Liverpool’s title chances after the shock Klopp news?

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Sunday, January 28, 2024: Liverpool's manager Jürgen Klopp before the FA Cup 4th Round match between Liverpool FC and Norwich City FC at Anfield. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

I think Liverpool will be right in the title fight until the end of the season.

Klopp announcing he’s leaving will give the team that added impetus to push even harder.

The history books will show Klopp has won the league, but rightly or wrongly, the achievement probably felt a bit underwhelming, given it was during the Covid era and probably doesn’t get the respect Liverpool fans would hope for from rival fans.

I’m sure Klopp will be absolutely desperate to win the league and celebrate it properly this time around.

 

Meanwhile, are you confident about League Cup final revenge next month?

LONDON, ENGLAND - Sunday, February 27, 2022: Liverpool's Joel Matip celebrates with the trophy after winning the Football League Cup Final match between Chelsea FC and Liverpool FC at Wembley Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Absolutely not. It’s very hard to see Chelsea winning it, as we’d really need Liverpool to have an off day and for us to be at our absolute best.

Anything can happen in a one-off final, of course, but a Blues win feels so unlikely.

 

As for Wednesday, where will the key battles take place?

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Sunday, January 28, 2024: Liverpool's Darwin Núñez celebrates after scoring the second goal during the FA Cup 4th Round match between Liverpool FC and Norwich City FC at Anfield. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

I think the Darwin Nunez vs. Thiago Silva battle will be a fascinating watch, and will be key to deciding the game.

Silva has had an excellent season and uses every bit of his experience to calm situations down, but I do wonder if he will be able to always keep track of the lively Nunez.

I expect him to be dragging him out of position at any given chance.

Elsewhere, I am excited to watch Moises Caicedo do battle in midfield. He’s looked absolutely brilliant in the last month or so, and is starting to show why Liverpool went all out for him in the summer.

Let’s see if he’s able to cope with the home fans whistling his every touch on Wednesday!

 

Finally, what’s your prediction?

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Sunday, January 28, 2024: Liverpool's manager Jürgen Klopp applauds the supporters after the FA Cup 4th Round match between Liverpool FC and Norwich City FC at Anfield. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

It’s very hard to see us getting anything at all from this game – we are very mediocre and Liverpool are in their best form of the season.

I’m going with a comfortable 3-1 win for the Reds.