This article is part of Football FanCast’s The Chalkboard series, which provides a tactical insight into teams, players, managers, potential signings and more…
Judging by their previous displays this season, the winner of Chelsea vs Liverpool could be decided by whichever team is able to dominate the midfield.
The Reds faced a similar challenge in their visit to Napoli on Tuesday, and their defeat was partly due to them being unable to exert their usual influence over the game, with the two sides having an almost equal share of the ball.
In order to prevent the same happening this weekend, Jurgen Klopp must keep a close eye on Jorginho, and Jordan Henderson would be a suitable player to mark the deep-lying midfielder.
The Italian has often been criticised since arriving in London last year but he has quietly gone about his business with great effect this season. He will provide the focal point for Chelsea in keeping the ball, as well as possessing the ability to potentially unlock the Liverpool defence – underlined by his 1.3 average key passes.
Henderson has been his typical consistent self this term, highlighted by his statistics on WhoScored, and his energy could prove valuable to his side in both attack and defence.
It may come as a surprise to some that Jorginho has been more industrious than his midfield counterpart in a variety of areas, but perhaps most impressive is the average number of interceptions he has managed so far – two, according to WhoScored.
That places him inside the top six for the average number of interceptions from a midfielder in the Premier League, proving that he has added to his game, with much of his quality coming on the ball.
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That is evidenced by the number of passes he makes per game, and if £20m man Henderson fails to contain his influence he will likely dictate play, and frustrate Klopp’s team by keeping the ball from them.
The Reds’ skipper will have a crucial role, therefore, but if he can close down the Brazilian he will hand the advantage to his side, and his average number of tackles this season suggests he should be able to do that.
He will also be important to Liverpool’s attacking threat, particularly his ability to find the full-backs, so if he can be effective in winning the ball back and setting off attacks then Chelsea may not be able to find a response.