Chelsea and Liverpool will go head-to-head for the second time this week on Saturday evening when the two sides meet at Stamford Bridge for the showpiece fixture of the weekend, and the Blues will fancy their chances after clinching a psychological advantage over their opponents on Wednesday night.
Indeed, Maurizio Sarri’s compelling opening to life at Chelsea took on a whole new complexion against Liverpool as his side became the first to defeat the Reds this season. Eden Hazard provided a moment of magic to seal Chelsea’s passage into the 4th round of the competition in a manner which Mo Salah typically provided for Liverpool last season.
It’s not quite happened yet for the Egyptian this season but the world class level of quality he consistently demonstrated on his maiden campaign suggests it’s far too early to write him off as a one season wonder.
Meanwhile, at Chelsea, Willian was in fantastic form for the Blues last season and his impact provoked plenty of reports which suggested he was a target for Manchester United.
Ahead of the heavyweight clash between two major title contenders, it’s an appropriate time to compare the signings of two players whom possess the potential to single-handedly clinch all three points for their respective sides this weekend.
Despite enjoying a glowing season with Roma in the 2016/17 campaign, nobody could have foreseen the unprecedented impact which Salah had on the Premier League last season.
44 goals and 16 assists from 52 appearances provided Liverpool with the springboard from which to mount a genuine challenge for the Champions League and achieve a top-four finish in the Premier League, and his electric interplay inside the final-third was truly something special.
After failing to make the grade at Chelsea it was reasonable for sceptics to question Liverpool’s decision to part with £38 million to secure his signature but, in hindsight, it was an absolute bargain price to pay for one of the world’s best.
TT Grade: A+
The Brazil international arrived from the Russian Premier Liga for a fee of £32 million in August 2013, and he’s thoroughly justified his price-tag ever since.
His playing style is one which combines a rare blend of creative flair and hard-working defensive diligence to great effect.
Willian was a firm favourite under both Jose Mourinho’s and Antonio Conte due to his willingness to put in a solid defensive shift, and he represented an integral component of the success which both managers enjoyed during their time at Stamford Bridge.
But despite this it feels Willian has never quite managed to achieve the level of consistency which is needed to become a true star in a top-four Premier League club.
TT grade: A
Both Liverpool and Chelsea completed fantastic deals to bring Salah and Willian to the Premier League, but there’s no doubt that the Reds’ decision to bring the Egypt international back to England was the shrewder of the two.
Willian offers a greater defensive presence than Salah but that represents the only major asset which he has over Liverpool’s crown jewel.
It will be intriguing to see how two players perform on Saturday, but if history has taught us anything then expectant onlookers can expect to see Salah outshine Willian in west London.
Liverpool and Chelsea fans – thoughts? Let us know below!