Liverpool already dismantled Enzo Maresca side twice and Chelsea should be worried

Leicester City Manager Enzo Maresca during the Sky Bet Championship match between Leicester City and Blackburn Rovers at King Power Stadium on May 4, 2024 in Leicester, United Kingdom.
-Credit: (Image: Plumb Images/Leicester City FC via Getty Images)

Arne Slot already has his feet under the table at Liverpool, and pre-season will get underway in a little under a month. Though fans will not be reading too much into performances and results, especially with the returns of key players delayed by international commitments, it will be a good chance for the former Feyenoord man to set out his stall.

For its part, Chelsea has also made a managerial change, albeit under rather different circumstances. Continuing to swing wildly between long-term appointments and cagier bets, Todd Boehly has made an initial five-year commitment to erstwhile Leicester City boss Enzo Maresca — with whom Liverpool actually got acquainted during last pre-season.

Maresca's credentials are clear. Having worked under Pep Guardiola at Manchester City, he has made a positive start to his own managerial career in England, taking Leicester to the Championship title and earning automatic promotion to the Premier League in the process.

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But he made a rather inauspicious start to life at Leicester. During his first pre-season, Liverpool hit his Foxes side for four, with Jurgen Klopp's signature brand of pressing overwhelming a team that was just starting to get to grips with Maresca's passing philosophy.

Darwin Nunez, Bobby Clark, Diogo Jota and Ben Doak all found the net, with Leicester simply outplayed in Singapore. Almost two months later, Maresca had a chance to show his team's progress, taking it to Anfield in the Carabao Cup.

And to be fair, Leicester made much more of a game of it. Flying high in the Championship by this point, the confidence was clear, and it went ahead in the third minute. But Liverpool inexorably turned things around in the second half, ultimately emerging with a deserved 3-1 victory, having outshot the opposition by 29 to four.

Naturally, Liverpool would have been expected to win both games, given the gap in quality and resources between the clubs — Maresca called Klopp's side 'the best in the world for the past seven years'. But it does point to something that might worry Chelsea.

At Manchester City and then at Leicester, Maresca has worked with teams expected to dominate. In the Premier League and then the Championship, he has been at a side with one of the very biggest budgets, coaching one of the most technically adept squads.

Chelsea will obviously aspire to build such a squad. But right now, despite the many millions of dollars spent, there are plenty of better sides in the division. There has always been the hypothetical question over how well Guardiola would fare without boasting the very best group of players, and now the same very real query can be posed in respect of Maresca.

Will he be able to handle the kind of elite pressing that Klopp's Liverpool threw at him last summer, and which Slot is expected to maintain? During a brief stint with Parma in his homeland in 2021/22, Maresca was unable to dominate in the same way he has subsequently done with Leicester, and his time there lasted less than six months.

In theory, at least, Chelsea is intent on giving him more time. But in order to earn it, Maresca will need to prove that his style can take a team to the top, not just keep it there.

As Slot prepares for his first pre-season at Liverpool, he is drawing up plans to effectively repeat his Feyenoord trick, utilizing a style that will allow the team to punch above its financial weight and challenge for the top honors. Maresca, though, will need to show hitherto unseen skills in order to drag Chelsea up from also-rans to true contenders.