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Liverpool v Chelsea Preview
Despite starting the summer more than £60million in debt, Chelsea have been European Football's biggest spenders over the summer, thanks entirely to the cash provided by multi-billionaire, Roman Abramovich.
The money given to Claudio Ranieri by the London club's new owner has enabled the Chelsea boss to put together one of the strongest squads of any club on the continent, with just short of £75million spent since Abramovich's arrival.
West Ham's highly rated 18-year old right back Glenn Johnson was the first player to join Chelsea after Ranieri had been provided with a seemingly unlimited amount of cash, and he was followed through the Stamford Bridge doors a day later by Geremi, who had been extremely impressive while on loan at Middlesbrough last season.
England International Wayne Bridge was next to make the move to the Capital, while Damien Duff took little persuading to join after being offered a £70,000-per-week contract which also saw him become the club's record buy once his £17million move was completed.
Following a couple of weeks of inactivity in the transfer market, Chelsea last week made another double signing, attracting Joe Cole and Juan Sebastian Veron to The Bridge, while this week has seen possibly the best signing of all, with Adrian Mutu joining for a fee of £15.8million from Parma.
The possible arrivals of Samuel Eto'o and Claude Makelele could see Chelsea's summer spending rise to almost £100million before the weekend!
Liverpool, in comparison, have spent very little since the end of last season, but rather than making huge changes to the squad, Gerard Houllier has instead opted to keep faith with most of the players who featured last season, while simply improve the quality of certain areas of the team.
Harry Kewell is obviously the biggest name to arrive on Merseyside over the pre-season period, but Steve Finnan could also play a big part in helping the Reds mount a serious title challenge, and the French youngester of Anthony Le Tallec and Florent Sinama-Pongolle will also be aiming for as much first team action as possible after giving the staff and also the Liverpool fans a glimpse of what they're capable of.
The players brought in over the summer will also put enormous pressure on those already at the club to perform and the response during the pre-season games by two of the club's most underfire players, Emile Heskey and Vladimir Smicer, has been impressive.
Liverpool will know that they'll have to be at their best to take all three points, and while the players are well capable of ensuring a first day win, the task facing the Reds will be made more difficult due to the absence of both Steven Gerrard and Dietmar Hamann.
Last year's Player of the Year, Danny Murphy, will be available though, and he will be partnered in the centre of midfield by Igor Biscan with Kewell and Diouf likely to complete the midfield line up.
The match promises to be a far more open affair than last year's meeting between the sides at Anfield, when Chelsea were only a minute away from achieving their desired result of a 0-0 draw before Michael Owen's late goal gave Liverpool a deserved win. But the game between the sides on the last day of last season which had a Champions League place up for grabs for the winner will be the match which will have stuck in the players minds a lot longer and the Reds have a perfect opportunity to gain some revenge by beating Chelsea in their first competitive match on English soil in the club's new era.
Liverpool may have had to settle for a UEFA Cup place this year, but winning this season's Premiership is not beyond the team, though only if they can improve a great deal on last year's form, particullarly at Anfield. And that improvement much begin with a win on Sunday.