Tuesday 28 January 2020

All the signs point towards Liverpool Turkey shoot

Sadio Mane will want to play in Istanbul tonight
Sadio Mane will want to play in Istanbul tonight

Liverpool have to be firm favourites heading into tonight's UEFA Super Cup match against Chelsea in Istanbul and not just because of the results on the opening weekend of the new season.

I roll my eyes when players moan about being tired as I wanted to play every day of the week during my career, but the way the games fell last weekend certainly helped Jurgen Klopp and his players.

After a difficult pre-season that saw players picking up injuries and too many coming back late from international duty, Klopp needs every day possible to prepare for a big game like this, so a comfortable Friday night Premier League opener against Norwich was the ideal sceanrio.

Chelsea's battering against Manchester United on Sunday will not have helped their mood heading into this Super Cup game and there is no doubt this is a prestigious trophy that is well worth winning.


You only earn the right to play in this game by winning one of the big UEFA competitions and Liverpool's status as European champions will be backed up if they can get another trophy in the cabinet this evening.

Winning is a habit all the best sides get addicted to and the Liverpool players, who now need to move on from the Champions League final win over Spurs and set new targets for themselves, have a quick chance to get another medal to add to their collection.

I'm expecting plenty of changes to the Liverpool line-up tonight, with Xherdan Shaqiri, Naby Keita, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Joel Matip all pushing for a start after they were left on the bench for the Norwich game.

It will also be interesting to see what Klopp does with Sadio Mane, who was still playing international football until the middle of July and has only just returned to training with Liverpool as a result.

I was surprised to see Mane him come off the bench in the Norwich game, but he looked very sharp and will be keen to start this game alongside Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino up front, yet it is at the other end of the pitch that some concerns have been highlighted.

Alisson Becker's injury means new-boy Adrian will be handed a high-profile European debut for the club and Chelsea may also be encouraged by the success Norwich enjoyed as they had a go at Liverpool's defence last Friday.

Klopp's defence has looked shaky during the pre-season games and the same problems were exposed in the Norwich game, as they got in behind Trent Alexander-Arnold on a few occasions and had chances to punish Liverpool.

Chelsea will take some encouragement from that weak spot in Liverpool's make-up and they will be keen to bounce back quickly after a pretty disappointing opening for them at Old Trafford on Sunday.


Frank Lampard's appointment as Chelsea manager was a gamble, because he has no coaching record to justify getting the job, and his opening game in the Premier League putting him under pressure from day one.

He will not want to be on the end of another heavy defeat against Liverpool, but he will know what Klopp's side are capable of if Chelsea make the kind of defensive mistakes that Manchester United pounced on at the weekend.

There is also a history between Liverpool and Chelsea that cannot be ignored.

These two clubs have been involved in some pretty bitter clashes in recent years and there is always a bit of an edge when they play each other, but it feels like the cards are falling in Liverpool's favour ahead of this latest meeting in a city that will always be special for Liverpool fans.

I was there in 2005 as the greatest comeback of them all saw the Reds heroically lift the Champions League against AC Milan in a never-to-be-forgotten final and thousands of Liverpool fans are heading to Istanbul.


This will feel like a home game for Liverpool, with the club having fans in every corner of the world, and they will be joined by plenty more making the long trip out to Turkey hoping to see another trophy being lifted by Klopp and his Liverpool team tonight.

I'm normally a pessimist when it comes to predicting Liverpool successes, but I fancy them to get the job done against Chelsea tonight.

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