Liverpool face an early test of their Premier League title defence against Chelsea this weekend who will look to be among the prime challengers to the Reds’ crown having spent over $250 million in the transfer market ahead of the season.

However, Chelsea manager Frank Lampard confirmed that most of the new signings won’t be ready for the big game at Stamford Bridge. The Blues will be without Hakim Ziyech signed from Ajax this summer and also without defensive recruits Ben Chilwell and Thiago Silva.

Christian Pulisic who starred in the Blues’ 3-5 loss to Liverpool in August will also be missing due to lack of match fitness.

Added spice

Chelsea’s meeting with Liverpool at Stamford Bridge on Sunday has added edge after a feisty exchange between the managers over transfer spending.

The London club finished 33 points behind the champions last season but their summer spending has caught everyone’s attention including Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp.

He pointedly said Liverpool could not spend in the same way as clubs owned by “countries” and “oligarchs” such as City and Chelsea during the coronavirus pandemic.

But Frank Lampard, who also became embroiled in a spat with Liverpool’s bench in July, pointed out the Anfield side had spent big in previous seasons as they built their title-winning side.

The Reds have since added Spanish midfielder Thiago Alcantara and Portuguese forward Diogo Jota to their ranks to ensure they have enough depth in their side.

Liverpool will be keen to cut out the defensive errors they committed in a 4-3 win against newly-promoted Leeds, but Mohamed Salah looked in fine early season form as he scored a hat-trick on the opening weekend.

Chelsea were also unconvincing winners against Brighton in their opening match, but Timo Werner, who chose to join the Blues despite interest from Liverpool, did impress in winning a penalty against the Seagulls.

The Blues’ other summer signing Kai Havertz didn’t have the best of matches on the south coast but will be hoping to make a mark after another week’s training under his belt. Croatian midfielder Mate Kovacic will also be available to Lampard having served a one-match suspension.

Head to head record: Nothing between the teams

Liverpool just have the edge in the overall head to head record between the two teams but historically there’s been very little between the two sides who have also been fierce competitors in cup competitions.

This has been the most played fixture in English football since the turn of the century and if Chelsea live up to their hype this season, the two sides could compete hard at the top of the table again.

Chelsea vs Liverpool head to head record

Total Matches played: 56 At Stamford Bridge
Chelsea Wins 20 14
Draw 14
Liverpool Wins 22 7

However, Liverpool are unbeaten in the last four Premier League meeting between the two clubs and did the double over Chelsea last season.

But every season is a new story and Lampard’s Chelsea will hope to deal an early blow to Liverpool’s hopes of claiming a record-equalling 20th league title.

Lampard however played down the significance of the game.

“I don’t feel it’s a game to make a statement, it’s the second game of the season,” Lampard said. “On Monday we were in pre-season zone in terms of fitness. Now we take on the best team in the country last season.

“It’s a nice challenge. We did pretty well head-to-head with them last year. It’s a challenge to get three points against top opposition.”

Like Lampard said the fixture comes too early in the season to be decisive but a win for either side could go a long way in setting the tone for the rest of the campaign.

(With AFP inputs)