For the first time since 2005 – Liverpool are travelling back to the city that saw one of their greatest ever nights as a football club. Istanbul.
Just merely utter those eight letters to any Liverpool fan and they will grow a smile and begin to tell you where they were.
In the other corner, is a fresh-faced Chelsea side with little in their favour. A poor start to the Premier League season, a rather inexperienced squad of players at the highest level and the knowhow that only one of the last six UEFA Super Cup trophies has been lifted by a Europa League winner.
This Wednesday will mark the first all English meeting in the competition’s history and the first European bout between the two sides since April 2009 – where a dramatic 4-4 draw played out at Stamford Bridge in the Champions League quarter-final second leg.
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp will enter the match understanding his side are favourites for the match – however, their recent head to heads tell a different story. The Reds have won just one of their last six matches against Chelsea. The most recent match the victorious one with goals from who else but Sadio Mane (£2.59) and Mohamed Salah (£5.00).
Those two performed on the weekend in the same manner they finished the previous campaign; with Mane making a cameo appearance off the bench after just returning rigorous international duties. It is tough to guess how Klopp will line-up his side exactly with Divock Origi (£1.08) impressing on the weekend. Roberto Firmino looks likely to start in the centre-forward role, however, his record against Chelsea is poor with no goals from seven matches against them.
It is well reported that Klopp did not have the greatest fortune with European silverware before Liverpool’s Champions League heroics and may go full strength to scare away Frank Lampard’s youthful side.
Chelsea fare rather well in recent times against the Champions League winners and have scored in 18 of their last 19 meetings. The baron outing being the aforementioned 2-0 defeat in April of this year. On paper, the Blues have a good chance at winning however add context and it reads a different story. For the first time in years, Chelsea are lacking the firepower of previous years without the likes of Eden Hazard, Diego Costa and Oscar; who were all involved in those previous 19 meetings.
In their place and who featured in the Premier League last weekend is Tammy Abraham (£2.30), Mason Mount (£2.64) and Christian Pulisic (£2.70) to name a few. Whilst their talent and potential is undeniable, their ability and composure to perform in a match such as this Wednesday is a worrying sign for Chelsea fans. It provides a platform to make a statement with a strong performance or show their age and flop under pressure.
Players to watch:
Mohamed Salah (£5.00) – Liverpool – This may seem like a very obvious shout, but that is the exact reason for it. If Liverpool needs a spark, it is consistently the Eygptian who comes to the rescue with a goal or assist. Salah has scored five goals in his last eight matches in all competitions against Chelsea – with three of those being scored for FC Basel. Many are fancying him to start with Sadio Mane still needing more rest.
Olivier Giroud – (£0.59) – Chelsea – It is very likely the Frenchman will feature this Wednesday after his appearance off the bench on the weekend against Manchester United. Firstly, he was the Europa League’s top scorer last season, netting 11 goals for Chelsea and secondly, his strike partner Tammy Abraham did not enjoy the best of afternoons in their Premier League season opener. Giroud will provide a focal point for their attack and isn’t afraid of aerial battles and muscling for the ball.