EPL

Liverpool trio Alisson, Firmino and Matip miss Chelsea clash with COVID-19

By Sports Desk January 02, 2022

Alisson, Roberto Firmino and Joel Matip will all miss Liverpool's trip to Chelsea on Sunday after they returned positive COVID-19 tests ahead of the clash at Stamford Bridge.

It follows the announcement on Saturday that manager Jurgen Klopp will also be absent from the game for the same reason.

The Reds are already without Thiago, Takumi Minamino, Divock Origi, Nat Phillips and Harvey Elliott with injuries, while Andrew Robertson misses the game through suspension.

Caoimhin Kelleher replaces Alisson in goal, with the Ireland international set to make just his fourth Premier League appearance, while Ibrahima Konate comes in for Matip and Diogo Jota continues up front with Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah, who both play their last Premier League game before heading off for the Africa Cup of Nations.

Meanwhile, Chelsea are without Romelu Lukaku after the Belgian striker was dropped for recent comments in the media that displeased his boss Thomas Tuchel.

Thiago Silva and N'Golo Kante come back into the side after neither started the 1-1 draw with Brighton on Wednesday, while Marcos Alonso replaces the injured Reece James and Kai Havertz comes in for Lukaku.

Both sides will be desperate for a win to stay as close as possible to league leaders Manchester City after Pep Guardiola's men snatched a late victory at Arsenal on Saturday to go 11 points clear of second-place Chelsea.

TEAMS

Chelsea: Edouard Mendy, Trevor Chalobah, Thiago Silva, Antonio Rudiger, Cesar Azpilicueta, N'Golo Kante, Mateo Kovacic, Marcos Alonso, Mason Mount, Kai Havertz, Christian Pulisic. Subs: Kepa Arrizabalaga, Malang Sarr, Lewis Hall, Jorginho, Saul Niguez, Ross Barkley, Callum Hudson-Odoi, Harvey Vale, Hakim Ziyech. 

Liverpool: Caoimhin Kelleher, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Ibrahima Konate, Virgil van Dijk, Kostas Tsimikas, Fabinho, Jordan Henderson, James Milner, Sadio Mane, Mohamed Salah, Diogo Jota. Subs: Adrian, Marcelo Pitaluga, Naby Keita, Joe Gomez, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Curtis Jones, Owen Beck, Neco Williams, Tyler Morton.

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    Despite seeing his side held at home, Allegri only wanted to focus the impact of Chiellini and Dybala to the Bianconeri.

    "Tonight was a wonderful evening, full of emotions – the evening of Chiellini and Dybala," he told Sky Sport Italia.

    "One stops and has given a lot to world football, out of passion and love of work. A few videos of Chiellini should be sent to Coverciano [Italy's main youth training centre] to show how he defends.

    "On a personal and human level, he also left a lot to me when I arrived at Juventus. He introduced me to Juventus and helped me. 

    "Dybala was an important player for seven years, I raised him because he was a child and the fans gave a well-deserved tribute. All with great class.

    "He has grown a lot, he arrived as a kid, he won the job. He has done great things and I wish him the best. There was so much emotion that I think talking about something else has little value."

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    "The matches up to October travel at certain rhythms, from October to March to others. As a child I used to say that when the daisies bloom, the rhythms drop and you need players of great technique. 

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