Against Leicester City I predicted a tight match with few goals in it. Thankfully I spared my own blushes and suggested that it might be worth covering yourself by opting for over 4.5 goals. I also went hot and heavy on the idea of Firmino bring the first goal scorer, so both of those things worked out quite nicely for me. If you were paying attention then you might well have earned yourself a pretty penny from that prediction.
So having dispatched with the defending Premier League champions with style and panache, what will a trip to Stamford Bridge have in store? If you ask anyone about Antonio Conte’s Chelsea team they’ll tell you that he’ll make them hard to beat and that they’ll be defensively solid. Exactly the sort of team Liverpool have struggled with (see: Burnley, away). Yet quietly the West London club have been anything but solid at the back, conceding at least one in four of their opening five fixtures in all competitions. Can Jürgen’s attacking Reds get at them?
For Liverpool the team news is reasonably good. Dejan Lovren, who missed the game against Chelsea with a rather nasty looking black-eye picked up in training, is back and raring to go. That means that Lucas Leiva will almost certainly drop down to the bench despite his good performance against the Foxes. Well apart from…you know…passing it straight to Jamie Vardy and that. Regardless, we now know that Lucas isn’t a bad option at the back and that Matip is looking calm and collected whoever his partner.
In the middle of the park the manager confirmed that Emre Can is over his injury but still isn’t fit enough to play. That’s no bad thing though, to be honest. Henderson, Wijnaldum and Lallana made for a decent trio against Leicester and they never really got a sniff. Would the German have walked back into the side away to Chelsea after being out for most of this season anyway? I’m not so sure. Anyway it’s irrelevant because he’s not fit.
The only major choice that Klopp needs to make is whether or not Philippe Coutinho comes back into the side. The Brazilian missed out against Leicester because he’d arrived back from international duty on the other side of the world about half an hour before kick-off. He’s had the week to work with the rest of the lads but should he come straight back in? It would be cruel to whoever he’d replace (most likely Daniel Sturridge) and Klopp might prefer the solidity of sticking with a winning team. We’ll see!
There’s only one major piece of team news for Antonio Conte to deal with. John Terry strained his ankle in the closing moments of last Sunday’s game against Swansea City and was seen leaving The Liberty Stadium on crutches. It’s only to be expected that Terry picked up an injury considering he’s now 67-years-old. That means that David Luiz will replace the captain in the backline, making his second debut for the club. The good news for Liverpool is that his league debut the first time around came against us at Stamford Bridge in a game that we won 1-0.
Marcos Alonso, Chelsea’s other major signing in the defence during the summer, is fit and able to play if needed. It seems likely that Conte will keep him on the bench for this one, however, saying in his pre-match press conference, “Alonso is ready to play and if there is the necessity he can play”. Other than that there are no choices that Conte needs to worry about and it’s likely that he’ll go with the same team that earned that 2-2 draw with the Swans at the weekend.
Liverpool’s form is reasonably self-evident. Seven points picked up from four games might not seem like much to write home about, but it doesn’t tell the full story. An excellent twenty minute spell against Arsenal was let down by some frailties at the back but it still saw three points notched up away from home against last season’s second-place team, whilst a poor display against Burnley resulted in a frustrating loss at Turf Moor. A brilliant performance at White Hart Lane should have seen the Reds take all three points but somehow Spurs earned themselves a draw. Then came that blistering display against the champions to open the new look Anfield with a draw. Add in the game against Burton and Liverpool have scored fourteen goals in five games.
For Chelsea the story is slightly different. Conte’s aim first and foremost is to make them strong at the back and so they’ve relied upon the mercurial talent of Diego Costa to earn them more points this season than they perhaps deserve. A 2-1 win at home to West Ham was followed up with a 2-1 win away to Watford. A 3-2 home win against Bristol Rovers in the EFL Cup was far from convincing but they did what we couldn’t manage and smashed three past Burnley without reply. The Blues came back from the international break to an away game against Swansea where they could only draw, again depending on Costa to put the ball in the back of the net and to avoid getting sent off…
Is Chelsea’s ability to concede a goal or two a bit of clue as to what might happen when Klopp’s free-scoring Reds come to town? Or is there something else you should be betting on?
Coral Offer: 5/1 For A Goal To Be Scored
Coral have got an amazing offer on for new customers: Bet £5 on a goal to be scored at anytime during the match between Chelsea and Liverpool and get odds of 5/1. Now I’ll be honest, that strikes me as being the equivalent of printing money. I just can’t see how, with the attacking talent on display for both teams combined with the defensive lack of talent in Liverpool and Chelsea’s aptitude for conceding goals so far this season, this one remains goal-free.
As I say this is only open to new customers but it’s a brilliant deal if you’re yet to join them. It needs to be a cash bet and it needs to be the first bet you place on your new account. If the bet comes home then your winnings will be paid in cash to reflect the actual odds and then topped up with free bets to pay you out on the enhanced odds. The other thing you might like to know is that if you’re bet loses then you’ll get a free £5 to make up for it! You can’t argue with that.
For more details head over to this page of the Coral website. Available until kick off.
There’s one bet in particular that seems impossible to resist for this game: Sending Off In Match. It’s 21/10 for their to be a sending off and that is another bet that feels a little bit like printing money. Martin Atkinson, the match referee, has taken charge of four games so far this season and has issued ten cards. He produced four in the West Ham v Watford game and it wasn’t even that spicy. He took charge of the derby last season and dished out six yellows.
Now admittedly he only produced one red card last season and that came in Arsenal’s 2-1 win over Leicester City at The Emirates. But Diego Costa has been flirting with receiving his marching orders in every game he’s played for Chelsea so far this campaign and he can’t keep getting away with it. Costa To Be Shown A Red is 20/1. That’s delightfully long odds for a player who is the ultimate snide. It’s 14/5 for Chelsea To Get Over Four Cards and I can’t see a side managed by a hot-head like Conte keeping their cool up against Klopp’s buzzing and pressing Reds.
Goals To Be Scored
As I’ve already said, I’m really struggling to see this one remaining at 0-0 for the whole 90 minutes. I don’t think Jürgen Klopp is yet ready to set-up this team to see out a game and I believe that Chelsea are more vulnerable at the back than the pundits are making out. For Both Teams To Score In The 1st Half it’s 3/1 and I think that’s a very good shout indeed.
Liverpool are as high as 16/1 to Score Over 3.5 Goals, which is pretty crazy when you think about it. Having smashed four passed Arsenal and Leicester and five passed Burton the bookies think a Chelsea team that has conceded six goals in five games will be able to keep us well under control? I’m not so sure. If you’d like a slightly different type of bet then 5/1 for Liverpool to net Over 2.5 Goals might appeal instead.
When it comes to goal scorers the options are obvious enough for it to be a tight market. If you opt for a score/win double, however, the odds lengthen a touch. Costa To Score & Chelsea To Win is 3/1, whilst man of the hour Mané To Score And Liverpool To Win is 5/1. Either of them look like good punts to me.
I’ve chucked a few bets at you there, so here are my favourites: Costa To Be Shown A Red is 20/1, whilst Liverpool To Score Over 2.5 Goals is 5/1. Both of them seem like outside bets but the way the season has gone so far suggests that inside bets might not be worth your while anyway.