Liverpool are the acid test of Chelsea's Premier League title credentials, says Paul Merson

Forgot about Arsenal, Chelsea’s Premier League title credentials face an acid test against Liverpool at Anfield, says Paul Merson; watch Liverpool vs Chelsea on Saturday Night Football live from 5pm on Sky Sports Premier League; kick-off 5.30pm

Football Expert & Columnist
@PaulMerse

Friday 27 August 2021 06:25, UK

Paul Merson says Liverpool present the acid test of Chelsea’s title credentials but both teams can make a statement in Saturday’s showdown at Anfield.

European champions Chelsea put their perfect start to the Premier League season on the line against Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool, who have also won their first two games of the campaign.

Fresh from tormenting Arsenal’s defence on his second Chelsea debut, record-signing Romelu Lukaku goes head-to-head with Liverpool’s talisman Virgil van Dijk in a mouth-watering contest between arguably the Premier League’s most dominant defender and attacker.

It’s a key battle Merson believes could prove to be crucial in deciding who comes out on top at Anfield, and who will emerge as the main challengers to Manchester City’s Premier League crown.



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‘Arsenal showed how not to defend Lukaku, but Liverpool won’t’

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“This is such a fascinating game, one which provides both teams with the chance to make a statement. It’s massive,” Merson told Sky Sports.

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“Romelu Lukaku has undoubtedly improved Chelsea, but the acid test for their title credentials will be the Liverpool game.

“What I saw from Arsenal on Sunday at the Emirates was everything you shouldn’t do against Lukaku from a defensive sense, that won’t happen again at Anfield. People say Jurgen Klopp doesn’t change his way, but he will have to change something.

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“He will have to put something in front of the defence because if Chelsea are allowed to keep rolling the ball into Lukaku on the edge of the box he will hurt them eventually.”

Can Van Dijk deal with Chelsea’s new attacking dimension?

Lukaku has returned to the Premier League from his tenure at Inter Milan leaner and having matured immeasurably after his spells at Manchester United, Everton and West Brom, and his first stint at Chelsea.

Lukaku’s all-round game will strike fear into Premier League defences this season but Merson believes that if anyone can combat the Belgian, it’s Van Dijk.

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“You’ve got Virgil van Dijk who is a Rolls Royce of a player,” Merson added. “Will Lukaku go and pick Van Dijk to play on? I don’t think so.

“That is what Chelsea will have to do – try and take Van Dijk out of the game – but Van Dijk is so cute and will just come around Lukaku if he is being pinned.

“Van Dijk’s pace allows Liverpool to take that risk of playing higher safe in the knowledge he will deal with that ball over the top.

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“But Lukaku is willing to run, he’s both quick and powerful, and just adds a completely new dimension to Chelsea’s attack, which previously didn’t have powerful runners off the ball and in behind.

“Not many people are willing to run without the ball but Lukaku is, and if Liverpool play that high line all it will take is for Lukaku to latch onto one ball in behind and it’ll be see you later.”

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