Just when the Premier League's leading lights seemed set to stop stockpiling air miles until the start of their European adventures, Chelsea and Liverpool interrupt the first week of their campaigns for a UEFA Super Cup showdown in Istanbul.
The Super Cup, setting the winners of the Champions League and Europa League against each other, has been running since 1972, visiting Istanbul for the first time this year. No English side has won the trophy since Liverpool's 3-1 extra-time win over CSKA Moscow in 2005, although Chelsea are looking to avenge defeats in two successive attempts to do so in recent years.
On a night when the only question marks floated over several players who had scarcely had a summer break, Liverpool blitzed Norwich in the first half at Anfield on Friday night to ensure the Premier League's opening game was completed as a contest by the interval.
One of the players whose readiness had been questioned was Mohamed Salah, but the formidable striker scored the second goal and formed part of a Liverpool strikeforce that looked ready to terrorise all but the most resolute of rearguards again this time around.
Norwich regrouped at half time, ironing out their early defensive naivety to restore respectability to a scoreline that would have become humiliating had their hosts built upon the four goals they scored in the first 42 minutes.
In spite of conceding a crafty consolation at the hands of opposition dangerman Teemu Pukki, ruthless Liverpool showed no signs of fatigue following a hard-touring summer that included international tournaments for several of their stars.
While Jurgen Klopp will vociferously object to any suggestions of complacency, the fixtures may have fallen kindly for him. A trip to Southampton - buried 3-0 by Burnley on Saturday - looms at the weekend.
Istanbul holds special memories and future ambitions for the club. The city's Ataturk Olympic Stadium was the setting for Liverpool's remarkable 2005 Champions League final win over AC Milan, and the season closer will return there in 2020, while Wednesday's final will be held at Vodafone Park, the home of Besiktas.
With a capacity of just over 41,000 and many fans perhaps feeling the stretch of another trip to a faraway showpiece game, Klopp and his team might not anticipate the kind of backing they enjoyed when they beat Tottenham Hotspur in the Champions League final in May.
The momentum of maintaining a winning run could be essential as Liverpool look to compete again with title holders Manchester City, in menacing form themselves during their 5-0 rout of West Ham United on Saturday.
Recent form: W
Less than 48 hours after Liverpool's flying start, Chelsea sunk without trace in the second half at Old Trafford with a fallible display in a 4-0 defeat to Manchester United.
Having been expected to threaten United, Chelsea hit the woodwork twice before half time but could ultimately take little comfort from their near misses as Marcus Rashford's early penalty and 67th-minute strike paved the way for a comfortable win for the home side.
A summer of optimism has surely given way to a realisation of the task ahead of him for new Blues manager Frank Lampard. The outcome could have been entirely different had Chelsea capitalised on their early chances, but their defensive failings were repeatedly punished during a grim second period.
Lampard captained Chelsea in their Super Cup defeats in 2012 and 2013. In their first appearance since they won the 1998 final with a Gus Poyet goal against Real Madrid, Chelsea were 4-0 down inside an hour against Atletico Madrid before Gary Cahill registered a late reply.
A year later, the tale was much tighter. Fernando Torres's early strike was cancelled out by Bayern Munich's Franck Ribery, and only a last-gasp goal by Javi Martinez denied Chelsea glory after Eden Hazard had restored their lead three minutes into extra time.
Romelu Lukaku missed the final spot kick in a shootout that included a conversion by Lampard, and the club legend will be hoping to see his side back to winning ways within 90 minutes ahead of an important weekend in which they host Leicester City.
That opening loss was the heaviest defeat for a Chelsea manager in their first game in charge since Danny Blanchflower lost 7-2 at Middlesbrough in 1978, and perhaps the only man with Chelsea connections to have raised a wry smile at Sunday's result will have been recently-departed boss Maurizio Sarri.
The result will have stung the Europa League holders, although there was enough to suggest they can trouble the likes of Liverpool should they respond to chances more clinically.
Recent form: L
Klopp would probably have sacrificed those early goals on Friday night in return for the continued participation of Alisson, forced off in the first half after pulling up with a painful-looking calf problem while taking a goal kick.
Spanish goalkeeper Adrian, signed on a free transfer last week after spending six years at West Ham United, is now certain to deputise for Alisson in Turkey.
Klopp would only confirm that his first choice goalkeeper would not be ready for the final, leaving Liverpool counting on 20-year-old Caoimhin Kelleher - recently back from surgery on a wrist injury - as genuine backup.
Journeyman keeper Andy Lonergan, a loanee for Rochdale from Middlesbrough last season, could be under consideration to join the club on a more permanent basis, having formed part of the squad that travelled to the US in pre-season.
Apart from their shortage of options in goal, Liverpool's only remaining concern is long-term injury victim Nathaniel Clyne, who is not expected to return from a cruciate ligament injury until next year.
Their high-profile returnees from the Africa Cup of Nations and Copa America, including attacking threats Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino, allayed fears over their fitness against Norwich but could still be rested given the proximity to Saturday's Premier League action.
Chelsea appeared to have emerged physically unscathed from their afflictions at Old Trafford.
N'Golo Kante returned from a lengthy lay-off in the latter stages but the midfielder may not make his return to the starting lineup in the first encounter of a week in which his side faces two matches.
Winger Willian, one of the players charged with restoring the creativity departing in Hazard's wake at the end of last season, has been back in light training but is unlikely to travel with the squad.
Depending on the balance Lampard strikes between competing for the cup and maintaining freshness for Sunday's match, new signing Christian Pulisic could be given greater game time or left in reserve again.
The midfielder's £58m transfer fee has inevitably come with high expectations, but the American played little more than half an hour on Sunday.
Chelsea's specialist in Europe, Olivier Giroud, could be entrusted with leading the line after top-scoring in the Europa League last season.
Liverpool possible starting lineup:
Adrian; Alexander-Arnold, Matip, Van Dijk, Robertson; Henderson, Fabinho, Milner; Salah, Origi, Mane
Chelsea possible starting lineup:
Arrizabalaga; Azpilicueta, Christensen, Zouma, Emerson; Jorginho, Kovacic; Pedro, Mount, Pulisic; Giroud
Head To Head
Giroud and Chelsea would take a repeat of the goal by the France forward that gave them victory over Liverpool in May 2018. Happily for Liverpool, that was their only loss to these opponents in their last nine league meetings.
There have been some epic Champions League clashes between these two. Liverpool won with the only goal of the tie when they beat Chelsea in the semi-finals on their way to glory in Istanbul in 2005.
Two years later, Lampard was the only Chelsea scorer in the shootout at Anfield as the sides exchanged 1-0 wins before Liverpool edged through with a 4-1 victory on penalties. They lost 2-1 to AC Milan in the final.
An extra-time Lampard penalty set Chelsea on their way to a narrow 4-3 win in the 2008 semi-finals before they were beaten in the final by Manchester United.
Chelsea won 3-1 at Anfield in the quarter-finals a year later, going through after a 4-4 draw at Stamford Bridge that included a double from Lampard.
We say: Liverpool 2-1 Chelsea
We know by now that all-English finals denote intensity, and that these clubs are as prone as any Premier League sides to produce fireworks when they meet in Europe.
Both managers will regard their forthcoming league matches as comfortably winnable, so an assumption of strong starting lineups here has to go with the form of the opening round of domestic games.
Liverpool looked sharp in attack in their opener and have the pace to repeat the damage United caused the Blues on the break. Chelsea know they need to be far less wasteful to have serious hope of beating the team they finished 25 points behind last season.
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