Jurgen Klopp secured his first win as Liverpool manager and headed for the Stamford Bridge to face embattled Jose Mourinho.
The Portuguese saw his beleaguered Chelsea side lose again in midweek, but the Portuguese insists his players will be ready for the visit of Liverpool on Saturday.
Premier League champions Chelsea have endured a nightmare start to the season and relinquished their grip on the League Cup – which they won in March – with a fourth-round penalty-shootout defeat at Stoke City on Tuesday.
Mourinho’s side, who sit 15th in the Premier League, have won just one of their last seven games in all competitions and reports suggest that a loss to Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool could spell the end of the Portuguese’s second reign at Stamford Bridge.
However, while admitting that lifting his squad for the weekend will be tough, Mourinho feels Chelsea’s stars can take heart from their performance at the Britannia Stadium.
“It’s difficult – but it’s more difficult when you play very badly and lose, than playing well and losing,” the former Real Madrid boss said.
“They go home with sadness but with a positive feeling. How can [Eden] Hazard, or Oscar, or [John-Obi] Mikel, or John Terry, to say some names – I could say everyone – how can they go home with a lack of confidence?
“They played well, they didn’t make many mistakes. They participated in the game a lot.”
Key Opta stats:
– Chelsea are unbeaten in their last six Premier League meetings with Liverpool, winning three and drawing three.
– Mourinho has lost six of his last 12 Premier League matches. Immediately before that run, he had lost six in 64 in the English top flight.
– Liverpool have failed to score in just one of their last 10 league clashes with the Blues.
– Liverpool are unbeaten in their last five Premier League games (W1 D4), their longest top-flight unbeaten spell since March (13 games unbeaten).
– Mourinho has only won one of his previous four meetings with Klopp, all in the 2012-13 Champions League (D1 L2), including the semi-final where Dortmund beat Real Madrid 4-3 on aggregate.
By contrast, Mourinho’s opposite number Klopp heads into Saturday’s match riding the crest of the wave of positivity surrounding his appointment at Anfield.
Klopp oversaw his first win in charge of Liverpool on Wednesday – a 1-0 League Cup victory over AFC Bournemouth – following three successive draws since replacing Brendan Rodgers.
And the German was thrilled to finally get off the mark.
“I feel much better than after a draw,” Klopp said. “But I don’t think the other games were so much worse than today – of course, the result is the biggest difference and we did well tonight.
“I saw minute by minute we were better in the game, we closed the spaces better and the whole 90 minutes we played football and created our chances.
“We didn’t have any real experience together, so I’m really satisfied – the boys did really well.”
Christian Benteke missed the Bournemouth tie with a knee issue, but Klopp expects the Belgian – who came off the bench to score the opener in Liverpool’s 1-1 draw with Southampton last week – to be fit for Saturday.
Daniel Sturridge continues to struggle with a knee injury of his own and remains doubtful, but James Milner is available after suspension.
Mourinho also faces a headache up front, with Diego Costa suffering a rib injury at Stoke, leaving the Spain frontman’s status for the weekend in question.
Branislav Ivanovic (hamstring) is likely to miss out for Chelsea, while Pedro (knock) is also a doubt.