Two of the Premier League’s three form sides finally clash as Chelsea host league leaders Liverpool at Stamford Bridge, a mere three days after the sides clashed in the League Cup on Wednesday evening, where Chelsea managed to win at Anfield for the first time since November 2014. Both these sides hold outside ambitions of a title challenge, and as often the case, matches between possible rivals often counts more significantly in the long run.
Chelsea v Liverpool Prediction and Preview
It’s the stereotypical six-pointer, where neither side can afford to lose, but far more than usual is gained from victory.
Fact of Interest:
- Chelsea’s 1-0 win over Liverpool at Stamford Bridge in May 2018 was the first win for the home side against Liverpool in 7 matches.
- Chelsea’s previous win against the Reds at Stamford Bridge was an extra time win in the 2015 League Cup semifinal 2nd
- 50% of Chelsea’s goals this season have come in the last 15 minutes of their matches.
- 43% of Liverpool’s goals this season have come in the 15 minutes directly after halftime.
- Eden Hazard has scored 6 goals in 16 appearances against Liverpool. His last league goal against the Reds was the opener at Anfield in May 2016 in a 1-1 draw.
- Pedro has never scored against Liverpool.
- Mohamed Salah has scored 4 goals in 7 appearances against Chelsea across his Basel and Liverpool career. He has 1 goal in 3 appearances for Liverpool against the Blues.
- Sadio Mane has scored 2 goal in 9 appearances against Chelsea across his Southampton and Liverpool career. He is yet to score for Liverpool against the Blues, having played them 4 times in Red colours.
- Roberto Firmino has never scored against Chelsea.
Liverpool face a harrowing week, where their home and away matches against Chelsea are followed by a critical away trip to Napoli in the Champions League, and their hosting of defending champions Manchester City a few days later.
Liverpool remain without Alex Oxlade Chamberlain due to long term injury. Van Dijk is a slight doubt due to a knock sustained against Southampton last weekend.
Expected Line-ups and Tactical Considerations:
Chelsea’s adjustment to 433 under Maurizio Sarri has been largely successful. Only West Ham managed to keep the dominant Blues at bay, and on the whole, Chelsea have been relentless in possession (averaging a whopping 65% per match thus far), and converting it meaningfully into chances (only Manchester City can better Chelsea’s average of 18 shots per game). Consistency has been the key, with the core of the defence and midfield largely unchanged and consistently delivering solid game control and defensive reliability.
The main issue for Chelsea has been rotation, with Sarri’s reputation for a lack of this starting to concern some critics that he may tire his first XI inappropriately. The lineups from Wednesday featured a rest for a couple of them and an appearance for some fringe players, but also didn’t lack for the regulars, especially once Hazard, Kante and Luiz came on the second half. Nevertheless, it’s highly unlikely that the Italian will deviate from his best lineup if available. As such, Kepa, Azpilicueta, Rudiger, Luiz, Alonso, Jorginho, Kovavic, Kante and Hazard will all likely keep their spots. The only debates will be around misfiring Spanish striker Morata (who has made a tepid impact thus far) and Willian (who may be a far better bet to worry the likes of Virgil Van Dijk or Andy Robertson with his trickery and pace).
Jurgen Klopp, meanwhile, has rotated in midfield, but nowhere else. The German manager dared to experiment with 4231 against Southampton after staying loyal as always to his own 433 in all matches prior. Liverpool unexpectedly hold the best defence in the league in terms of goals conceded, and number of clean sheets. New goalkeeper Alisson has made a reasonable show of his start at Anfield, while versatile Dutch midfielder Wijnaldum has established himself as an effective midfield anchor. Liverpool may not have the same dominant numbers of Chelsea and Manchester City in the possession and shooting numbers, but their current efficiency on both ends of the pitch more than makes up for it. Liverpool have also found an unusual knack for goals from set-pieces, which has proved an especially useful weapon for unlocking stubborn opponents.
Klopp has options, and even with the considerable rotation used in midweek against Chelsea where only Milner and Mane were the familiar first team options used, he has some important decisions to make. The front three understandably chooses itself. Questions exist elsewhere; does he choose the more experienced Matip or the growing confidence of young Joe Gomez in defence alongside Alisson, Alexander Arnold, Van Dijk and Robertson? Wijnaldum and Milner’s form has made both players hard to drop from the midfield, but the mixed performances of captain Henderson make for complications especially with a hungry and precocious talent in new signing Naby Keita lurking on the bench.
Match Facts & Summary
|Head to Head||Chelsea||Liverpool|
|Current Season Record||Played 6, Won 5, Drawn 1||Played 6, Won 6|
|Current Season Top Scorers||Hazard (5), Pedro (3)||Mane (4), Salah (3)|
|Last 10 Competitive Matches||Chelsea 3 Wins, 5 Draws, Liverpool 2 Wins|
|Last 10 Competitive Matches at Stamford Bridge||Chelsea 3 Wins, 2 Draws, Liverpool 5 Wins|
|Last Season’s Result||Chelsea 1-0 Liverpool|
|Odds of Interest (as at 23 Sep)||Chelsea||Liverpool|
|Odds – Result (Draw = 2.56)||1.83||1.45|
Chelsea’s home record against Liverpool has improved in recent years, and on paper, they don’t lack for strength to upset the Reds. The midfield trio of Jorginho, Kante and Kovacic is imposing and very capable of strangling both space and possession for Liverpool. And in Eden Hazard, the Blues have arguably the most in-form player in the Premier League at present.
Liverpool’s run has been impressive and they certainly warrant credit for being difficult to break down and manage. Their attacking transitions have been viciously effective, and their improved capacity to get goals from set-pieces means they don’t necessarily have to rely on the blistering counter attacks that have become characteristic of Salah, Mane and Firmino.
But if there is one team who arguably could handle this, it is Sarri’s Chelsea, who have proved themselves both tactically astute and effective in execution. Chelsea’s midfield is well equipped to close space and supply lines, their fullbacks have both the pace and temperament to handle the trickery and speed of Mane and Salah, and new keeper Kepa is more than capable of producing the same, if not more shot stopping heroics than Liverpool’s own new stopper Alisson. Liverpool have yet to be tested with an opponent of Chelsea’s quality, and the home crowd alongside the well balanced options Sarri has available to him, should at the very least prevent Liverpool from gaining little more than a point, with a Blues win the most plausible result.
Please note betting odds quoted are correct at time of publication and are subject to change. View the latest EPL Betting Odds