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Men’s Football Can Chelsea close the gap as they welcome the reigning champions?

LAST season was one of contrasting fortunes for these old foes. By Chelsea’s high standards, they underachieved. 

As they welcome the league champions Liverpool on Sunday, there is high expectation among Chelsea supporters that given their club’s lavish spending, this will be the beginning of a fruitful campaign for the west London millionaires.

Liverpool won in this corresponding fixture last season, last September, on their way to sealing their first league title in 30 years. The champions have a relatively good record in this fixture, having lost just the single league match in five seasons at Stamford Bridge.

Manager Jurgen Klopp expects to see the addition to his ranks of Thiago Alcantara, the talented Bayern Munich midfielder. He will join Greek fullback Kostas Tsimikas, who signed earlier in the summer.

Klopp, however, relies heavily on the players that delivered so emphatically last time around. With the transfer window open until October 5, Liverpool will be looking to boost their numbers in their title defence.

Things have changed somewhat for Chelsea manager Frank Lampard, who has now at his disposal a squad assembled at great cost. At the beginning of last season, his first in charge, a transfer embargo prevented any signings.

Chelsea’s summer spending spree, upwards of £200 million, is a statement of intent from Roman Abramovich, the owner of the west London club. He saw his club finish in fourth place, 33 points off Liverpool last season. We know from the recent past that the Russian is notoriously demanding and, though club favourite Lampard will be given time, a trophy is expected.

Timo Werner impressed in Chelsea’s season opening match at Brighton, showing that he is comfortable with the pace of the Premier League. The 24-year-old German striker looked cool and relaxed in the pre-match media duties earlier this week.

One senses he will add real attacking threat as Chelsea look to mount a title campaign.

Kai Havertz’s debut was a low-key one, but there is no disputing the potential of the German youngster. Lampard’s other additions miss out to injury.

Former RB Leipzig player Werner was on Klopp’s radar. But, with Liverpool uncertain about their own finances, he opted to go with a move to London.

This match could go either way, however. An uneven performance from Klopp’s men in last week’s home victory over league newcomers Leeds United will mean Lampard will be optimistic that his players can overcome the Reds when these two clubs match up again.

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