Chelsea vs Liverpool LIVE: Premier League team news and lineups with Romelu Lukaku dropped

Chelsea welcome Liverpool to Stamford Bridge for a massive game in the Premier League title race

Chelsea play Liverpool in a massive game in the Premier League title race on Sunday.

The Blues have dropped off the pace at the top of the table in recent weeks and now sit 11 points behind league leaders Manchester City after the champions came back to beat Arsenal on Saturday. Manager Thomas Tuchel has Covid and injury problems to address with Reece James the latest first-team star to be forced onto the sidelines. A bigger concern is Romelu Lukaku with the emergence of the striker’s controversial interview this week set to cost him his place in the side.

Jurgen Klopp has Covid issues of his own with Alisson, Roberto Firmino and Joel Matip joining the manager himself in missing the game with suspected positive tests. The Reds will be desperate to get back on track after defeat at Leicester last time out with Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane set to feature for the final time before jetting off to the Africa Cup of Nations later this week.

Follow all the latest Premier League updates and analysis throughout the afternoon here:

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Liverpool statement

The Liverpool statement regarding the three suspected positives reads: “Alisson Becker, Roberto Firmino and Joel Matip have been ruled out of Liverpool’s clash with Chelsea today after returning suspected positive tests for COVID-19.

“The trio will play no part in the fixture at Stamford Bridge and are now isolating.

“It follows news Jürgen Klopp will not be present at the encounter after also registering a suspected positive test.

“All other members of the Reds’ playing squad have subsequently been tested and received negative results.”

Alisson, Firmino and Matip all out

Breaking team news as the three Liverpool players with suspected positive Covid tests have been confirmed as Alisson Becker, Joel Matip and Roberto Firmino.

Big blow for the visitors.

Leeds 1-1 Burnley

There’s also been another goal at Elland Road where Maxwel Cornet has equalised for Burnley against Leeds.

Spoils being shared in the relegation six-pointer as it stands.

Everton 1-2 Brighton

Game on at Goodison?

Anthony Gordon has pulled one back for the hosts eight minutes into the second half and all of a sudden Everton are right back in it.

Klopp to miss Chelsea clash

Jurgen Klopp will miss Liverpool’s crucial match at Chelsea on Sunday after testing positive for Covid-19.

The Liverpool manager is experiencing mild symptoms and now joins the list of three staff members and three players who have tested positive this week.

In Friday’s press conference Klopp did not reveal who had tested positive but hinted the cases would affect his first XI for the game at Stamford Bridge between second and third in the Premier League. “It’s not so cool at the moment,” Klopp said. “I’m not able to say who it is but it’ll be pretty clear on the team sheet.”

Klopp’s assistant Pep Lijnders will lead the team into the crunch fixture. Liverpool are one point behind second-placed Chelsea with a game in hand.

Lukaku on the tip of all tongues

Romelu Lukaku’s name is everywhere ahead of today’s game…as Miguel Delaney illustrates.

Chelsea vs Liverpool team news

No line-ups confirmed yet – that will come at 3.30pm. But here is a reminder of what we know already.

Chelsea are without Ben Chilwell, Thiago Silva, Andreas Christensen and Reece James, while Timo Werner and Kai Havertz are both still on the road to full recovery from Covid-19.

Romelu Lukaku is set to be dropped after his controversial interview angered boss Thomas Tuchel.

Liverpool have most key players available, with only Divock Origi, Takumi Minamino, Nat Phillips and Harvey Elliott on their injury table.

Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane are available before travelling to the African Cup of Nations. Thiago Alcantara was left out of the defeat at Leicester and is set to be absent yet again.

Half-time scores

Here are the half-time scores from the three 2pm Premier League kick-offs:

  • Brentford 1-1 Aston Villa
  • Leeds 1-0 Burnley
  • Everton 0-2 Brighton

Danny Ings’ opener was cancelled out just before the break by a brilliant striker from Yoane Wissa as Brentford and Aston Villa go in all square.

Jack Harrison’s goal has given Leeds a precious advantage over Burnley in a relegation six-pointer at Elland Road.

And goals from Alexis Mac Allister and Dan Burn have given Graham Potter’s Brighton a health lead over a desolate Everton team. Dominic Calvert-Lewin also skied a penalty on his return to the side.

Tuchel admits to ‘bump in development'

Thomas Tuchel has admitted Chelsea will keep refining their tactical blueprint in a bid to shake off December’s “bump in development”.

https://spartacelticfest.com/soccer/darren-bent-claims-tuchels-choice-to-drop-romelu-lukaku-is-extreme/

“We have the feeling we’ve invested a lot, we squeezed the lemon and squeezed the lemon,” said Tuchel. “But it’s like squeezing the same lemon over and over again and expecting fresh juice.

“It’s hard to take these results and stay positive because we know we can play better, but also everybody is trying extremely hard. It’s tough, we have now three games at home where we conceded late equalisers where we dominated all statistics and are purely unlucky.

“It hurts because obviously with six points more we would have a completely different feeling around New Year.

“But it’s sometimes like this, I’m sure it’s not the first time in my career and the players’ career when things feel a bit more heavy than in other days.”

Thomas Tuchel admits to recent ‘bump in development’ at Chelsea

The German admits it ‘hurts’ that the Blues have drawn four of their last five at home but predicts they will learn and improve

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