Chelsea will be looking to extend their unbeaten run at the start of the 2016/17 Premier League campaign when they host Liverpool at Stamford Bridge on Friday evening (8pm, Sky Sports 1).
The Blues’ 100 percent winning record came to an end last weekend, with Swansea City holding Antonio Conte’s side to a 2-2 draw at the Liberty Stadium despite being second best for most of Sunday’s encounter.
Chelsea were more than a little unfortunate to leave south Wales with just a point. Swansea’s second strike should have been disallowed for a foul on Gary Cahill, while the hosts did not create anywhere near as many chances as the visitors. Chelsea were also guilty of wasting a number of excellent opportunities in front of goal. Conte will still be pleased with the manner in which his new side have begun the season, though. After all, victory over Liverpool this weekend would lift Chelsea to the summit of the standings after five fixtures.
Jurgen Klopp’s charges blew Premier League champions Leicester City away with their display at Anfield on Saturday evening. Goals from Roberto Firmino (two), Sadio Mane and Adam Lallana (pictured) helped the Reds to secure an extremely convincing 4-1 victory.
Liverpool were superb from start to finish in front of their own supporters, with their attacking movement and interplay in the final third a joy to watch at times. The 2-0 loss to Burnley last month shows that Liverpool have still not completely shaken off the inconsistency which plagued them under both Brendan Rodgers and Klopp last term. If they can replicate last weekend’s showing on a more regular basis then they will be more than capable of challenging for the title this year.
Chelsea could be without captain John Terry for this encounter, with the long-serving defender leaving the Liberty Stadium on crutches after picking up an ankle injury last weekend. With Kurt Zouma still sidelined until next month at the earliest, summer signing David Luiz is likely to partner Cahill in the heart of the backline. Moving Branislav Ivanovic inside and shifting Cesar Azpilicueta to left-back is another option available to Conte. In-form striker Diego Costa will again be flanked by Eden Hazard and Willian, with N’Golo Kante, Nemanja Matic and Oscar forming an impressive midfield trio.
Liverpool will be unable to call upon the services of youngsters Joe Gomez and Sheyi Ojo, but Emre Can and Dejan Lovren should be fit enough to be included in the matchday squad. Philippe Coutinho could come back into the starting XI after beginning the triumph over Leicester on the substitutes’ bench. Daniel Sturridge is the man most likely to make way if the Brazil international does return, while Lucas Leiva will probably drop out after a shaky performance at centre-back.
James Milner has been solid since shifting to the unfamiliar position of left-back and will continue in that role on Friday night. Jordan Henderson, Adam Lallana and Georginio Wijnaldum are set to occupy the three spots in midfield once more.
This has the potential to be a very entertaining affair, with both teams having played some terrific football in the opening weeks of the campaign. Overall, though, it could be worth backing Liverpool to upset the odds and defeat Chelsea at Stamford Bridge for the second season running.
The Reds tend to lift their performance against the bigger sides. Their counter-pressing game plan is also far easier to implement when they face teams who try and take the initiative and build from the back.
A 2-1 win for Liverpool is therefore this preview’s recommended betting tips’ option in the correct scoreline market. Lallana, who has already found the back of the net twice this term, is a good option for anytime goalscorer.
- Betting Tip: Liverpool can be backed at 9/4 with Coral or Betfred to win this game. But if you fancy a correct score margin bet as an alternative then take Liverpool to beat Chelsea by a 2-1 margin @ best betting odds of 12/1 with Bet365.
- Betting Tip: Consider betting on Adam Lallana to score at anytime at a current standout best price of 5/1 with Coral.
Greg Lea is a freelance sports writer. Read the articles that he has written at Just Bookies.