Chelsea return to Premier League action on Tuesday night, as they face title rivals Liverpool at Anfield. This is a huge clash for the league leaders, as they’ve been in awful form in matches against their rivals at the top. They lost at home to Liverpool earlier in the season, and they’ve suffered defeats away to Tottenham and Arsenal this term. Can they do any better when they take on the Reds this week?
Liverpool are in shaky form of late, so Conte will see this as a chance to knock them out of the title race. With 10 points separating these two ahead of this meeting, a win for the visitors would basically end Jurgen Klopp’s ambitions of leading his side to the Premier League crown. A 13 point gap at this stage, with the league so competitive, would be too much for them to claw back in final 15 matches of the season. Can the Blues deliver a major blow to one of their rivals for top spot? It’s going to be a pretty tall order.
Team News: Huge test for Conte’s new system
Chelsea have no injury concerns ahead of this game once again. Antonio Conte has a full squad to choose from, and he’s likely to restore his key men after rotating during the FA Cup. Expect another 3-4-3 formation, which is a set up they weren’t using in the first meeting at Stamford Bridge. That change has paid off, it led to that 13 game winning streak. With only one defeat under the new system since October, it’s clearly a huge part of the Blues’ push for the title. Expect that formation to feature again, as it might be able to cause Liverpool some problems.
The hosts come into this game with no major injury worries. Striker Danny Ings is their only notable absence, he’s set to miss the season. The former Burnley man isn’t exactly a regular starter. They are likely to have to go without Sadio Mane, with the forward away on African Nations Cup duty. Without his pace, the Liverpool frontline looks a little toothless. Can Klopp find a way around that on Tuesday night? He’s been trying a 4-3-3 with Daniel Sturridge, Roberto Firmino and Philippe Coutinho. While that’s a threatening front three, they’ll match up with the Blues’ back three. The Liverpool forwards are likely to struggle for space, given how defence-minded the four in front of the backline are.
Liverpool are currently on a terrible run, which has seen them struggle in the FA Cup and crash out of the EFL Cup. Their defeat here to Southampton made it back to back losses at Anfield, after former Chelsea coach Paul Clement led his Swansea side to victory here in the league. That 3-2 defeat to the worst defence in the top flight must have set alarm bells ringing for Jurgen Klopp, as that result saw them fall to fourth and drop even further off the pace in the fight for the Premier League title.
They are yet to record a league win in 2017, which hasn’t done their hopes of winning the league any favours. Klopp has seen his team score four times in their opening seven matches of the year, so their attacking swagger seems to have gone as well. There are quite a few issues for them to fix, especially as Klopp looks limited on options in his side. There’s no one he can really call on to step up to the first team and make a difference. At this stage of the season, squad depth is key. Liverpool just don’t seem to have enough in reserve.
Liverpool v Chelsea Head to Head
The Blues haven’t had the best record against Liverpool of late, losing twice to Klopp at Stamford Bridge since he took over in late 2015. They did pick up a draw at Anfield last year, and that was after leading for most of the game. Their last victory over the Reds was a 1-0 League Cup win, which came two years ago this month.
- Chelsea 1-2 Liverpool, Sep 2016
- Liverpool 1-1 Chelsea, May 2016
- Chelsea 1-3 Liverpool, Oct 2015
- Chelsea 1-1 Liverpool, May 2015
- Chelsea 1-0 Liverpool, Jan 2015
- Under 2.5 goals – 19/20 with Bet365
- Chelsea to win draw no bet – 11/10 with Betfred
The bookies seem to be favouring the Reds here, as Liverpool are priced at 7/5 with Sky Bet to take the points. Meanwhile, you can get 2/1 with Betfair on a win for Chelsea. The draw is a 12/5 shot with BetVictor. A point wouldn’t be the worst result for the Blues, but it would allow others to cut into their lead. After a few games with no success over Klopp, Antonio Conte’s side should be aiming to leave here with all three points.
We expect Conte’s men to keep things tight if they can, and they have an excellent defensive record of late. Since switching to the 3-4-3, few sides have found a way past their defence. That’s likely to be true of Liverpool as well, given how they’re struggling to make an impact in front of goal. We’re expecting a low scoring game, which has been the case during most of the Reds’ matches this year. We’re backing under 2.5 goals in this one, which is priced at 10/11 with Coral.
We’re also backing a win for Chelsea, as they look like the best team in the division by quite some distance. While the others have clear issues, the Blues are a reliable unit who aren’t easily shaken. While the leaders are excellent value on the win market, we’re going with a slightly safer bet here. We’re backing the Blues draw no bet, which is priced at 11/10 with Betfred. Given how Liverpool are struggling for wins, that seems like a pretty safe option.