Chelsea vs Liverpool: Klopp adds spice to Mourinho rivalry
Can Klopp scalp the Special One as Liverpool visit Chelsea with the stakes high on both sides?
A new chapter in the bitter rivalry between Liverpool and Chelsea is set to begin on Saturday as Jurgen Klopp takes his team to Stamford Bridge and a showdown with under-pressure Jose Mourinho.
The Chelsea boss has a history of bad blood with Liverpool. It dates back to meetings between the two sides in the Champions League during Mourinho's first stint in charge, and has simmered on since then, with many Liverpool fans still smarting from the 2-0 defeat that cost them the title in 2013.
But the arrival of Klopp adds a new ingredient to the rivalry. Mourinho has a losing record against the German, after Borussia Dortmund played Real Madrid four times in the Champions League in 2012-13, with Klopp's side beating Mourinho's Madrid twice and knocking the Spanish giants out of the tournament at the semi-final stage.
This may be a domestic league match, but the stakes are just as high for Mourinho. Chelsea have endured a dire start to the season and it has been claimed that a sixth league defeat of the season on Saturday could see Mourinho lose his job.
As for Klopp, who is yet to register a win in the league, the match in London represents his first big test as Liverpool manager. Victory would immediately catapult him to hero status on Merseyside, especially if he brings down Mourinho with a single punch.
"The biggest motivation for Liverpool players now is to prove a point to new manager Jurgen Klopp in a big game. But if they beat Chelsea on Saturday, Mourinho will be fighting to save his job and few at Anfield will feel too much sympathy for the Portuguese, his assistant Rui Faria or the Blues squad," says Matt Law of the Daily Telegraph.
Given the high stakes, Mourinho seems certain to try and dominate the game in midfield to prevent Liverpool winning. However, the Blues have looked vulnerable this season and with Christian Benteke fit they will present the Blues defence with some difficult questions.
Jon Obi Mikel could return, suggests the Daily Mail, to offer Mourinho more muscle.
"Liverpool have had the lion's share of possession in every match under Klopp so far, and while they would be wise to be less cavalier at Stamford Bridge they will still look to enforce their style on proceedings," says the paper.
"How effectively they use that possession will be largely down to Mourinho's men. Most of their problems on the pitch can be rooted in a lack of control in midfield.
"A central duo of Mikel and [Nemanja] Matic should cut off a lot of the supply for Klopp's breakneck attacking play – while a player such as Ramires or Willian could tuck in and provide extra support."
Chelsea's hopes may rest on the fitness of Diego Costa, who is suffering from a rib injury. He is almost as disliked by the Liverpool players as his manager and if he plays it will only add more spice to an already hot encounter.
Given the high stakes a draw may be the most likely outcome.