Chelsea and Liverpool gear up to go head-to-head as early title contenders in the Premier League’s blockbuster fixture this Saturday.
Jurgen Klopp and Thomas Tuchel’s sides face each other as both teams look to extend their unbeaten starts to the season with three successive wins.
Chelsea look like genuine challengers this season after bringing in Romelu Lukaku and will have their title credentials when they take on a refreshed Liverpool side, who are looking to mount a serious bid to regain their Premier League crown after injuries prevented them last season.
It will be Liverpool’s first real test this season, too, with Jurgen Klopp’s men having beatennewly-promoted Norwich and Sean Dyche’s Burnley so far.
Ahead of the mammoth clash, Sportsmail looks at both squads to see who would make the cut in a combined XI from the players available.
Chelsea and Liverpool gear up to go head-to-head as early title contenders on Saturday
Jurgen Klopp’s (left) and Thomas Tuchel’s (right) sides remain unbeaten in the league so far
Edouard Mendy (Chelsea)
The Senegalese just clinches the No 1 spot over Liverpool’s Alisson in a tightly-contested battle with both keepers keeping two clean sheets from two in their teams’ winning starts to the season.
Mendy kept a remarkable 16 cleans sheets in 31 Premier League appearances last season which is more than his counterpart in red’s 10. Alisson let a total of 32 goals into his net, although he slightly redeemed himself with an incredible injury time winning goal against West Brom to give Liverpool a shot at a top four finish.
29-year-old Mendy narrowly missed out on the Golden Glove award to Manchester City’s Ederson but will looking to extend his chances this year as he hopes to keep Mohamed Salah and co off the score sheet.
Edouard Mendy kept a remarkable 16 cleans sheets in 31 Premier League appearances
Trent Alexander-Arnold (Liverpool)
Trent Alexander-Arnold received a call up to return to Gareth Southgate’s Three Lions squad this week after missing Euro 2020 due to injury, and it’s easy to see why.
The full back suffered a dip in form last season but has bounced back to kick start his campaign with his first assist of the season against Burnley at Anfield last weekend.
He will be looking to match his season’s best of 13 from the 2019-20 season as the Reds begin their title charge.
His formidable crosses and penchant for arriving on the edge of the box to pull the trigger have proved the bane of many teams in the Premier League.
Antonio Rudiger (Chelsea)
Rudiger has pipped the Reds’ centre backs Joe Gomez and Joel Matip to clinch a spot in the back four.
While both Matip and Gomez suffered season-ending injuries last year, Rudiger enjoyed perhaps one of the best individual comebacks of the season as the Germany international is now a central cog in Chelsea’s backline.
Largely frozen out by Frank Lampard but reinstated by Tuchel, Rudiger has revived his Blues career with some excellent, commanding displays at the back in the second half of the 2020-21 season.
Trent Alexander-Arnold provided his first assist of the season to set up Sadio Mane
Antonio Rudiger (left) experienced a comeback season at Chelsea last season under Tuchel
Virgil van Dijk (Liverpool)
The Anfield colossus has made a hugely anticipated return from injury to the relief of the Reds and breezes into the team.
Van Dijk can be majestic in his performances and has brought back a much-needed solidity to Liverpool’s backline and the team in general.
The Dutchman’s presence at the heart of Klopp’s defence has earned Liverpool two clean sheets from two and he will be looking to keep the Champions League winners off the scoresheet on Saturday.
A born leader, Van Dijk has had an incredible effect on Liverpool’s backbone. When he is on the pitch Anfield is guaranteed to be a fortress.
Andrew Robertson (Liverpool)
The Scot missed Liverpool’s first two games of the season after picking up an injury in a pre-season friendly but the Anfield faithful will be pleased to see him make his return to the side, despite impressive performances from his deputy Koastas Tsimikas.
His dramatic rise from Queens Park to Liverpool is one of football’s greatest success stories, one which both he and Klopp have been rewarded for.
Robertson provides the Reds boss with an option both defensively and going forward. He remains one of Liverpool’s main creative forces, racking up seven assists for Liverpool last season.
The 27-year-old is one of the Premier League’s best left backs and walks not only into Klopp’s team but also our combined XI.
Having just been named UEFA’s Player of the Year and earning the title of Euro 2020 winner with Italy this summer, Jorginho was a shoo-in to make this combined XI.
The midfielder was awarded for his sensational performances last season that also garnered him a spot in our engine room ahead of Liverpool’s Fabinho, who provided stiff competition for the Italian.
However, the 29-year-old enjoyed a sensational campaign in Europe last season and played an instrumental role in helping Chelsea claim Champions League glory.
His partnership with N’Golo Kante was a huge strength for Chelsea as they went on to lift the trophy against the odds after defeating Manchester City in last season’s final in Porto and the Blues will be hoping to replicate this success in their quest for the first league title of Tuchel’s tenure.
Jorginho was named UEFA’s Player of the Year after winning the Champions League and Euros
Mason Mount (Chelsea)
It is a testament to Mount’s performances for England this summer and Chelsea last season that he has seen off the competition that Liverpool’s engine room boasts as well as team-mate Kai Havertz.
The England international took his game to the next level last term and has arguably become the Blues’ best player.
The midfielder has demonstrated his ability both on and off the ball, stifling opponents, blocking off passes, and creating chances for his team-mates.
Mount created more chances against Arsenal than the opposition side combined at the Emirates last Sunday.
He has an indisputable attacking creativity that Tuchel will be looking to rely on to provide chances for Romelu Lukaku to make it past Liverpool’s back four on Saturday.
N’Golo Kante (Chelsea)
In any other midfield, Jordan Henderson and Thiago Alcantara would be guaranteed starters but are trumped by their French counterparts.
It comes as a shock that the Frenchman has not started either of Chelsea’s league games so far this season as he could be considered a vital cog in Tuchel’s side.
He has the ability to dominate big games and slices through opposition’s midfields at will.
His stamina, anticipation and pace off the mark make the 29-year-old World Cup winner pivotal in the flow of big games and could be key in deciding Saturday’s victor.
Mason Mount put in impressive performances for England this summer and Chelsea last year
N’golo Kante (right) could be key to Chelsea pipping Liverpool to victory on Saturday
Mohamed Salah (Liverpool)
Rumours of a summer exit and difficult contract talks with Liverpool led to a supposed dip in form last season – if 22 league goals can be classed as a dip.
However, the Egyptian appears to be back on firing form as Liverpool look to regain their Premier League crown.
In typical Salah fashion, he bagged his first goal of the season in Liverpool’s opener at Carrow Road, making the Premier League history books with a goal on the opening day of the season in five years on the spin.
The 29-year-old has scored twice and assisted twice in eight league games against Chelsea for Liverpool but will be hoping to improve on that record this weekend after beginning the season in fine form.
Salah remains a huge danger for any team and is often the man for the big occasion, and Klopp will need him in this early game between the two title race contenders
Romelu Lukaku (Chelsea)
The Chelsea new boy edges out an in-form Diogo Jota for the spotlight slot in the combined frontline.
The prodigal son has returned to Stamford Bridge and the Premier League in prolific fashion after scoring the first goal of his Chelsea revival in his second debut for the club.
Lukaku could be the missing jigsaw piece to Chelsea’s success this season. His ability to hold the ball up will lead to an undoubted stream of goals for Tuchel’s side.
The Belgian bullied Arsenal’s centre backs in Chelsea’s 2-0 romp over the Gunners last week but he is about to face his first real competition as Saturday’s clash is sure to set up an entertaining duel with Van Dijk.
Mohamed Salah bagged his first goal of the season in Liverpool’s season opener at Norwich
Romelu Lukaku arrived at Stamford Bridge for £98m and bagged his first goal against Arsenal
Sadio Mane (Liverpool)
With his pace, positional awareness and brute strength, Mane is very often an attacker who opposition teams allocate two players to handle.
Chelsea can hardly afford to do so with their hands full with the other two thirds of Liverpool’s attacking trident Salah and Diogo Jota.
Once Mane is on the ball, he’s devilishly tough to get off. Magnetic footwork only promotes his cause, and often results in misery for Liverpool’s opponents.
The Senegalese may have struggled to find form at times last season but has eased into impressive displays to kickstart his campaign.
Mane opened this season’s goalscoring account in front of a full Anfield last week as he convincingly slotted a flick from Alexander-Arnold into the net.
Sportsmail’s combined Liverpool-Chelsea XI ahead of their blockbuster cash this weekend