Liverpool v Chelsea combined XI: Who makes the cut?
We take our pick from two elite squads to make an unstoppable XI
While Liverpool have been the dominant force in English football this year thanks to their Premier League exploits, Frank Lampard’s Chelsea have certainly shown some promising signs.
Their transfer ban means they have had to focus on youth over expensive signings, with the likes of Mason Mount and Tammy Abraham showcasing their talent in the Premier League.
The two clubs were due to go head-to-head this weekend, so we’ve looked at both squads and come up with a combined XI featuring their best players. Here’s our selection:
GK – Alisson Becker
The Brazilian stopper is one of two signings that transformed Liverpool from their previous ‘Heavy Metal’ model – deadly going forward, vulnerable at the back – to the almost unstoppable juggernaut that’s stormed the Premier League this season.
With his forward-thinking style, Alisson fits the bill of the modern goalkeeper, expected to read the play and come off his line to sweep up danger, while building play from the back.
His Chelsea counterpart Kepa Arrizabalaga has had a mixed season, notably struggling in their epic 4-4 Champions League match against Ajax, scoring an unfortunate own goal in the process.
Kepa was dropped back in February, but made his return against Liverpool in the FA Cup, where he kept a clean sheet in their 2-0 victory. But despite that promising performance, Alisson is our pick for the man between the sticks.
RB – Trent Alexander-Arnold
While occasionally exposed defensively, Trent Alexander-Arnold’s sublime passing range and crossing ability has seen him register 12 assists in the Premier League this season – only Kevin de Bruyne has registered more. At just 21 years old, the youngster has the world at his feet, having appeared in two consecutive Champions League Finals.
Chelsea’s best option here probably remains Cesar Azpilicueta, despite the emergence of Reece James (and Fikayo Tomori). The Spaniard has remained a reliable wall at the back for Chelsea over the years, but his more conservative style means Alexander-Arnold makes the XI.
LB – Andrew Robertson
The 26-year-old Scot is considered one of the bargains of the modern Premier League era, purchased for just £8 million from Hull City back in 2017. A complete full-back, Robertson is brave, tough in the tackle, with the pace and stamina to raid up and down the left flank all game long.
Chelsea’s options of Marcos Alonso and Emerson just can’t match that. Alonso has a cultured left foot and is dangerous going forward, but tends to perform better with three centre-backs behind him, while Emerson is no match for Robertson’s all-round excellence.
CB – Virgil van Dijk
The best centre-back in the world right now? Quite possibly. Van Dijk is comfortable on the ball, imperious in the air and virtually impossible to pass. Probably the first name on the team sheet of this combined XI.
CB – Antonio Rüdiger
With plenty of options to partner Van Dijk, we’re opting for Chelsea’s Antonio Rüdiger. He’s strong, excellent in the air and very quick for a centre-back. Liverpool’s Joe Gomez may yet outshine him in years to come, but we think he’s a more solid option than Joel Matip right now. Paired with Van Dijk, there are few attacking players who could get past these giants.
CM – Jordan Henderson
There are plenty of people still unconvinced by Jordan Henderson, but his stamina, work ethic, leadership skills and forward passing make him an extremely effective and versatile midfielder. He can close down players for 90 minutes, will chase any cause and has an underrated passing range.
First and foremost though, Henderson is a leader who demands those around him give everything, and we’d argue few sides wouldn’t be improved with his presence in the middle of the park.
CM – N’Golo Kanté
While injury has limited Kanté’s appearances this season, his achievements in the game (back-to-back Premier League wins with Leicester and Chelsea) and his superb engine means he makes the side.
While Fabinho is perhaps a more complete midfielder, Kanté would fit the gegenpress perfectly, chasing the ball, making interceptions and tackling for 90 minutes. Alongside Henderson, you’d have the hardest working midfield in the Premier League, allowing the side’s creative players to flourish.
CM – Mateo Kovačić
To complete the midfield trio, we’ve opted for Chelsea’s Kovačić, an excellent all-rounder with pin-point passing, who is supremely comfortable on the ball. Kovačić can drive forward from the middle of the park, before finding the perfect pass to release the wider players or play it into the feet of our selected centre-forward.
LF – Sadio Mané
The explosive Mané is unplayable on his best days, combining, pace, strength and ability on the ball with deadly finishing and excellent movement. Our combined XI keeps his flourishing partnership on the left flank with Robertson alive, allowing one of the world’s most devastating forward players to continue wreaking havoc on defences.
While Christian Pulisic has shown flashes of excellence, he has a long way to go before he can match Mané.
RF – Mohamed Salah
Few sights are more predictable in the Premier League than seeing Salah racing onto the ball, cutting inside and finding the corner of the net with an instinctive finish. The Egyptian is every bit as deadly as Mané on the opposite flank.
His only competition is found in the form of the hard-working and skilful Willian. Superb on his day and perhaps underrated for his contributions to Chelsea over the years, we simply think that with the midfield trio selected, it’s better to go with the more potent attacking option – and that’s undoubtedly Salah.
CF – Roberto Firmino
The Brazilian forward is the fulcrum of the Liverpool attack, with exceptional vision, a deft first touch and complete unpredictability that allows him to create as much as he scores – he simply doesn’t have any weaknesses.
A unique centre-forward who makes everyone else he players with look better, while looking exceptional himself.
Chelsea’s best option here is youngster Tammy Abraham, who has perhaps more physical presence than Firmino, but only boasts two-thirds of a season in the Premier League. His goalscoring antics in the early part of the season aren’t enough to dislodge one of the Premier League’s most entertaining talents.
Manager – Jurgen Klopp
Frank Lampard is an intelligent manager, no question about it and we think he could go on to find great success at Chelsea, but he’s still yet to complete a season in the Premier League, while his single season at Derby ended in play-off disappointment.
Contrasted with Jurgen Klopp, there’s simply no match. Klopp inspires intense loyalty from his players, suggesting excellent man-management, while his commitment to entertaining attacking football is second-to-none. His gegenpress style, combined with a motivated set of players ready to run through walls, would see this squad go on to win major honours. Of that we have no doubt.
Agree? Disagree? Who would make your combined XI?
All odds and markets correct as of date of publication