Following a last gasp winner in the Champions League on Wednesday Chelsea will be looking to get back to winning ways in domestic action when they host Liverpool at Stamford Bridge on Sunday (4pm GMT, live on Sky Sports).
Chelsea are currently second in the Premier League table on 23 points, one point shy of leaders Manchester United and 12 clear of Liverpool in 12th. They have lost just once in their ten matches to date, otherwise recording seven wins and two draws.
The Blues triumphed 3-2 over Shakhtar Donetsk in midweek in a match they could easily have lost had Shakhtar’s relentless pressure in the first half and first 15 minutes of the second yielded more than two goals. Chelsea came on strong in the final half hour as their opponents tired and scored an injury time winner when substitute Victor Moses headed home from a corner.
The match saw an improved performance from striker Fernando Torres. He was far livelier than he had been in Donetsk two weeks earlier. He scored a goal and was more involved in the team’s play. He is yet to score against former club Liverpool since his £50 million move in January 2011 and would love to break that duck on Sunday.
Behind him the attacking midfield trio of Eden Hazard, Juan Mata and Oscar flickered intermittently – Oscar scoring a superbly taken goal – but were not the supreme creative force they have been for most of the campaign.
Between them, the trio have scored six times and provided 11 assists in the Premier League so far. Only two of those six goals were assisted by one of the others, so in total they have had a direct hand (scoring, assisting or both) in 68% (15) of Chelsea’s 22 league goals this season.
It is clear that if a side wishes to nullify the threat posed by the trio, the best form of defence is attack. One of the primary reasons for Hazard’s quiet showing on Wednesday was that he spent the majority of the match chasing back after the Shakhtar right-back Dario Srna, who got forward at every given opportunity. Mata was, to a lesser extent, similarly occupied by Razvan Rat.
Chelsea manager Roberto Di Matteo will be glad to welcome John Terry back into the fold on Sunday following the expiration of his four-match ban for racist comments. The Blues conceded 10 times during Terry’s ban, having conceded just five in the previous six domestic matches in which he had been involved. Whatever your opinion on Terry the man, his on-pitch influence is still clear to see.
Di Matteo’s opposite number Brendan Rodgers has presided over Liverpool’s worst start to a season in 20 years. The Anfield club have won just twice in their ten matches to date, otherwise recording five draws and three defeats. They have drawn three of their last four matches, including last weekend’s 1-1 tie at home to Newcastle.
Luis Suarez produced a moment of magic to level the scores in that match, taking his tally for the season to seven goals in ten Premier League starts. He has also provided two assists and has therefore had in direct hand in 69% (9) of Liverpool’s 13 league goals thus far.
The Reds are clearly reliant on Suarez, particularly so in the absence of Fabio Borini, sidelined until January with a foot injury. Rodgers elected to leave Suarez at home for Thursday night’s trip to Moscow to face Anzhi Makhachkala in the Europa League, not wishing to risk an injury that would derail Liverpool’s season even further.
Finding a reliable partner for Suarez will surely be Rodgers’ primary concern in the January transfer window. For all his talents, Suarez can be wasteful in front of goal, and as a team Liverpool have among the worst shots to shots on target, and shots to goals ratios in the league. This is reflected in their goal total, the ninth worst in the division.
Suarez was one of a number of first team players spared from action in a 1-0 defeat to Anzhi. Despite having most of his regulars fresh and ready for action on Sunday, Rodgers is still without Lucas Leiva and will need Glen Johnson to pass a late fitness test.
Chelsea vs Liverpool Betting Tips Verdict
Liverpool have an excellent record against Chelsea over the last couple of years, winning five of the last six encounters in all competitions, including both league matches last season.
Chelsea are, however, a different proposition this season, possessing an array of creative talent that it is difficult to imagine an average Liverpool team having the ability to constrict.
- Back Chelsea to win @ best odds of evens with William Hill or Pinnacle.
- On average, Chelsea have scored their first goal of home matches in the 36th minute, while Liverpool have conceded before half-time in three of their four away matches to date. With this in mind, back the ‘time of 1st home goal’ (Chelsea) to be before the 43rd minute @ 5/6 with Bet365.