Hudson-Odoi and Shaqiri potential game-changers: Where Liverpool and Chelsea will be won & lost

Liverpool’s quest to win the Premier League title will face another remarkably stern test this weekend when the Reds take on Chelsea.

Jurgen Klopp’s men are two points clear of Manchester City but the Blues have a game in hand.

Liverpool, then, cannot afford a single slip as they attempt to win their first Premier League title of the modern era.

Chelsea, though, have played spoiler before; Steven Gerrard will remember that all too well.

Where will this game be won and lost, then? Football FanCast has taken a look.

The key battle – Eden Hazard vs Liverpool’s backline

hazard chelsea - Hudson-Odoi and Shaqiri potential game-changers: Where Liverpool and Chelsea will be won & lost

We know what Liverpool’s front three can do.

The question, then, is whether Eden Hazard will turn up on the big occasion once again.

He has been in exceptional form in recent weeks, scoring against Brighton & Hove Albion and netting a brace against West Ham United.

Chelsea have played Liverpool twice this season, in the League Cup and the Premier League, and Hazard has scored in both games.

In 16 games against the Reds, he has netted seven goals.

Liverpool, then, have shown that they have trouble dealing with the diminutive Belgian playmaker.

If he turns up and is as evasive and slippery as he has been against the Reds previously, Liverpool will have a serious problem to deal with.

Quieten him and Klopp’s side have a serious chance of taking all three points.

The key dynamic – Can Sarri-ball adapt?

Sarri in Chelsea training - Hudson-Odoi and Shaqiri potential game-changers: Where Liverpool and Chelsea will be won & lost

Liverpool love to press teams relentlessly.

The question, then, is this: Can Sarri-ball cope?

Maurizio Sarri loves his side to move the ball around midfield methodically and slowly.

Liverpool, though, are unlikely to allow that to happen. The likes of Jordan Henderson, Fabinho and Naby Keita will squeeze up and limit the space afforded to Jorginho and Co.

If Chelsea continue to try to cycle slowly they will get picked off and Liverpool will be given countless chances to break. And we all know how terrifying Liverpool’s “red arrows” are in full flight.

Sarri will surely have to adapt the way he sets his midfield up and it remains to be seen if he will be willing to do so.

Chelsea’s season thus far has been characterised by the Italian’s stubborn refusal to change. A repeat this weekend may well see Chelsea’s top-four hopes dealt a serious blow.

The deciding factor – Salah back on form?

Mo Salah - Hudson-Odoi and Shaqiri potential game-changers: Where Liverpool and Chelsea will be won & lost

Mohamed Salah has not been in the finest form recently.

The Egypt international scored against Southampton and that goal broke a scoreless streak of six games.

Salah is arguably the best player in the Premier League when he is on top form.

But this season, that form has come around all too rarely.

If he turns up against his former club later today, it is hard to imagine Chelsea’s defence coping.

It is not that he is their kryptonite; he is the kryptonite of any defence if he decides to turn on the afterburners and ally to it his world-class finishing ability.

Chelsea had better be worried.

The impact subs – Xherdan Shaqiri v Callum Hudson-Odoi

Hudson Odoi claps fans e1554388099873 - Hudson-Odoi and Shaqiri potential game-changers: Where Liverpool and Chelsea will be won & lost

Hudson-Odoi has not been trusted on a regular basis by Sarri and, despite starting their last two games, there is every chance the England international could be back on the bench this weekend.

The same goes for Shaqiri, who has not been able to dislodge Salah, Roberto Firmino or Sadio Mane from that fabled front three.

Both offer pace – particularly Hudson-Odoi – and an excellent finishing and dribbling ability and each can change the game from the bench.

Indeed, chances have been so hard to come by for each this season that they would surely want to grab any opportunity with both hands this weekend.

Could either player be the game-changing impact substitution to swing the result in their side’s favour?

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