Two giants of English football who are now revising their pre-season targets.
At the start of the campaign Liverpool playing Chelsea at Anfield would have been expected to be a title tussle, but instead the two struggling sides are languishing in mid-table.
Both are on 28 points, a huge 19 points adrift of Premier League leaders Arsenal, but Jurgen Klopp’s side have played one fewer game than Graham Potter’s team.
Last season’s league meetings ended in draws, but Chelsea will be aiming for revenge after being beaten on penalties by Liverpool in the FA Cup and Carabao Cup finals.
With the Reds and Blues both out of form and out of sorts in the top flight, defeat for either on Saturday will surely deliver a knockout blow to their top-four hopes.
It sets us up for an intriguing lunchtime battle on Merseyside (kick-off 12:30 GMT).
Injuries contribute to issues
Liverpool agonisingly missed out on a quadruple of trophies last season, winning the domestic cups but losing the Champions League final and being pipped to the title by Manchester City.
They may be suffering a hangover from reaching those heights, failing to replicate the same impressive performances this term and losing both their league games in 2023 so far.
Chelsea, meanwhile, last won silverware when they lifted the Champions League and subsequent Club World Cup in 2021 under Thomas Tuchel.
The German was dismissed earlier this season after a poor start to the campaign and Potter brought in from Brighton as his successor, but the Blues have won just twice in their past 10 league games.
Both sides come into the match with a lengthy injury list – Liverpool without the likes of Virgil van Dijk and Roberto Firmino, while Chelsea will miss Raheem Sterling and N’Golo Kante.
Klopp said: “They are the only team with a similar injury list to us. It is tough; Arsenal deserve where they are, they play outstanding football. But cut out five players, injuries are a massive problem, but not the only problem.
“There is still lots of good football. I know how good Chelsea are.”
Coming full circle
The clubs meet while both are outside the top eight for the first time since 31 October 2015, when the Liverpool won 3-1 at Stamford Bridge – Klopp’s first league victory as Reds manager.
The 55-year-old German will take charge of his 1,000th career game, having also had spells at Mainz and Borussia Dortmund in his homeland.
“I never thought about these numbers and I’d be allowed to do it for that long,” he said. “I feel blessed.”
Opposite number Potter has had a challenging start at Stamford Bridge and is already under pressure, but Klopp has lent his support.
“I tried to get used to it,” said Klopp. “If the owners aren’t happy they’ll tell you, so I didn’t worry too much, I just kept working. I know Graham will do that.
“To work for a big club is a massive task – you ignore the size in the best way possible. There is no advice I can give and he doesn’t need it. He is a fantastic coach.”
Chelsea’s heavy spending ‘interesting’
Some good news for Liverpool will see the return of striker Darwin Nunez, after the Uruguayan missed the past two games through injury.
The Reds will be hoping January signing Cody Gakpo can get off the mark, having failed to find the net in his first three appearances, but more winter purchases are unlikely.
Chelsea could give a debut to big-money acquisition Mykhailo Mudryk, who joined from Ukrainian side Shakhtar Donetsk for an initial £62m, becoming their fifth signing of the window.
It took the club’s spending under their new owners over a staggering £400m – and more could follow, as they are closing in on a £30.7m deal for PSV Eindhoven winger Noni Madueke.
Asked if more transfers are planned, Potter said: “I don’t think there’ll be too many to be honest. I’ve no complaints about the squad. January is very complex. You might want A, B and C, but they are not available in terms of positional need.
“You are always looking to strengthen your squad and we have done that. When players come back we have an exciting squad of players.”
Klopp said of Chelsea’s heavy spending: “Interesting. I can’t explain it, I have no idea. But if the numbers are true then it’s impressive.
“I can’t see investment stopping in the future, so that means we have to do it as well. I believe in coaching, developing and team building 100%.
“But meanwhile the managers out there, they are all good and they believe in that as well. So if they start spending but we don’t spend you will have a problem.”