The Reds travel to Stamford Bridge on Sunday in a key Premier League clash; can their African trio silence the Blues’ Anglo-Nigerian duo?
Once again, expect African players—and key duels between the continent’s stars—to prove decisive in Sunday’s heavyweight Premier League showdown.
The Senegal winger could again be key, whilst Fikayo Tomori may find himself in direct confrontation with Mohamed Salah on the opposite flank.
Up front, Chelsea could start Tammy Abraham against Joel Matip, who had a difficult evening at times against Napoli on Tuesday.
Both of these sides lost their Uefa Champions League openers in midweek. Liverpool had a dubious penalty given against them, whilst Virgil Van Dijk gave the ball away for a late second goal. Chelsea, meanwhile, dominated possession without providing a great deal of service to Abraham and eventually lost to a second-half goal from a freekick.
In attack for Liverpool, neither Mane nor Salah had nearly as much effect as usual. With a back four and two defensive midfielders who did not budge, Napoli compressed the space for Roberto Firmino to operate between the lines.
That meant little link-play for the two wide forwards, and most of their best chances came on the break. Salah, in particular was a huge weapon in the opening period in the space behind Napoli’s left back, Mario Rui. Kalidou Koulibaly had to race across to make some crucial interventions in the channels.
Against a Chelsea side expected to play with a back three, it could be Tomori tasked with covering Salah on transitions behind Chelsea’s left wing-back, whether that is Marcos Alonso or Emerson. That will be so easy task for the 21-year-old, but he has taken every challenge in his stride so far this season.
In one attack against Napoli, Salah outmuscled Koulibaly and left the Senegal man on the floor.