Chelsea have an opportunity to truly turn a corner under Graham Potter when they face Liverpool in Jurgen Klopp’s 1,000th game as a manager.
Just four months into the job, Potter had to fend off questions regarding his future on the back of a run of one win in eight matches, six of those ending in defeat.
Last weekend’s slender 1-0 win over Crystal Palace has brought the “buzz” back to Chelsea, in the view of Potter, but another loss at Anfield on Saturday could change all that.
Tenth-place Chelsea are not the only Premier League giant to have struggled this term, with opponents Liverpool level on points in ninth, albeit having played a game less.
Indeed, this weekend’s meeting will mark the first time since the 2015-16 campaign that both sides have been outside the top six at this stage of a season.
Stats Perform has picked out the standout Opta numbers to preview the big game, with both clubs needing to put a strong run together to have any change of securing a top-four finish.
Poor form laid bare
Chelsea have won just two of their past 10 Premier League matches, collecting nine points from a possible 30 in that period.
Both of those victories – against Bournemouth late last month before seeing off Palace – have been on home soil, with the Blues winless in five away top-flight matches since mid-October.
Liverpool’s form has been equally as patchy, having lost back-to-back league games in 2023 against Brentford and Brighton and Hove Albion, the two sides directly above them.
They picked up their first win of the year in all competitions at the fourth attempt against Wolves in the FA Cup on Tuesday to lift the gloom.
Not since 1953 have the Reds started a year with three straight league losses.
Both teams are therefore in need of a victory if they are to make up any ground on the top four, though this fixture has often ended all square in recent times.
The two league games last season were drawn – 1-1 at Anfield in August and 2-2 at Stamford Bridge five months later, with Chelsea recovering from two goals down in the latter.
Then came the EFL and FA Cup finals contested in the space of three months that defined both sides’ seasons; each ending goalless before Liverpool prevailed on penalties.
Never before have Liverpool and Chelsea drawn three consecutive league games, though, so that streak looks set to end this weekend.
No home comforts
Preceding that run of draws, Chelsea won 1-0 at Anfield in March 2021 – Mason Mont scoring the only goal – to continue an interesting sequence in this fixture.
The home team has won just three of the past 17 league games between Liverpool and Chelsea – and none in the Reds’ case since July 2020 on the day they lifted the title.
Due to the high number of draws, though, Liverpool have lost only two of their past 15 top-flight games with Chelsea at Anfield, winning six and having to settle for a point seven times in that sequence.
Mudryk to make his mark?
One of the big factors behind Liverpool’s drop-off this season has been their struggles at the back, having conceded 25 goals in 18 games – compared to 26 in 38 last season.
Should they concede against Chelsea, it will be the first time since between May and October 2016 they have gone nine successive Premier League games without a clean sheet.
Not since December 1953 have they shipped three-or-more goals in three straight top-flight matches, meanwhile, which they are risk of doing on Saturday.
But that seems highly unlikely on the face of it as Chelsea have only scored more than twice in a league game once this season, coming in October’s 3-0 win at Wolves.
Mykhailo Mudryk’s arrival has bolstered Chelsea’s attack, and he is out to become the first Ukrainian to score on their Premier League debut.
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