Chelsea head to Anfield on Saturday with three points very much on the agenda. There’s an intriguing top four battle emerging in the Premier League, and a win over Liverpool would lift the Blues above that and more towards a possible tilt at the title itself. They’ll have ambitions of being part of a top three with the Manchester clubs, rather than having to contend with the sides chasing fourth. A few impressive Premier League victories has seen expectations at Stamford Bridge raise, but can they continue to make life difficult for Liverpool at Anfield?
Antonio Conte is facing the only Premier League side that he’s failed to beat since arriving at the club last summer. The Blues won 30 of their 38 games on the way to the Premier League title, but they took just one point from a possible six against Liverpool last season. That was partly down to the similarities between the pair, as they were both looking to make the top four in a season without continental football. Now they’ve both made the jump to the Champions League, it will be interesting to see which team is best equipped to stay there.
Team News: Conte’s 3-5-2 is here to stay
Chelsea come into this game with only Michy Batshuayi on the injury list, which is a big boost for Antonio Conte. He has made a slight tweak to the system this season, using a 3-5-2 set-up for big games. That was always likely to be wheeled out at Anfield, but the system seems to be one that Conte is sticking with. He used it at West Brom last weekend, to great effect.
Post-match Conte talked up the understanding of the two strikers – Alvaro Morata and Eden Hazard. Those two played really well together at the Hawthorns, and that could signal a change in thinking from the Blues boss for the remainder of the season. A switch to a three-man defence worked wonders last season, Conte must hope a change to a three-man central midfield can do the same.
Liverpool have few injury worries going into this one, with Nathaniel Clyne their main absentee here. We’re unlikely to see any huge changes to the way they play – which tends to be a in a 4-3-3 set-up. Mohamed Salah is set to be one of the wide-men in that system, as he faces off against his former side. It will be interesting to see how the pace and pressing of that front three lines up against Chelsea’s three man defence, but they have N’Golo Kante in front to help alleviate the pressure at least.
The Reds are in impressive form in recent weeks, having strung together a three game winning streak in the league. However, those wins did come against Southampton, West Ham and Huddersfield. They struggled in slightly bigger games before that, losing at Tottenham, drawing with Manchester United and Newcastle. Their biggest Champions League home game saw the Reds draw with Sevilla, so you can question their form in big games. While they rattled four goals past Arsenal, Jurgen Klopp’s men followed that up with a 5-0 loss to Manchester City soon after.
Liverpool do have one of the strongest home records in the league, which makes this a dangerous trip. They’ve conceded just one home goal in the league – and that was to the Premier League’s resident upset merchants Burnley. They are unbeaten in 11 home matches, dating back to April’s loss to Crystal Palace. Having taken 14 points at home, scoring 12 times in six games, Anfield has become something of a fortress for Liverpool, but can Chelsea end that run?
Liverpool v Chelsea Head to Head
Anfield has been a friendly ground for the Blues to visit in recent times. They’ve escaped without defeat in their previous six visits, with their last loss coming five years ago. However, that side was heavily rotated by Roberto Di Matteo, as he battled fixture congestion to guide the side to the Champions League and the FA Cup. It’s over seven years since a full strength Blues side lost at Anfield, but can Klopp’s side end that run this weekend?
- Liverpool 1-1 Chelsea, Jan 2017
- Chelsea 1-2 Liverpool, Sept 2017
- Liverpool 1-1 Chelsea, May 2016
- Chelsea 1-3 Liverpool, Oct 2016
- Chelsea 1-1 Liverpool, May 2015
- Eden Hazard to score any time – 7/4 with BetVictor
- 1-1 Draw – 6/1 with Coral
Chelsea come into this game as slight outsiders, as they’re priced at 21/10 with Betfred, while the draw is 5/2 with Ladbrokes. The Reds are 6/5 favourites with Bet365, which is understandable given their home form so far this season. However, it’s easy to also see why the home side are above evens, given that they’ve enjoyed a mixed record against the other top sides in recent encounters, with Manchester United taking a 0-0 draw back from Anfield last month.
Chelsea shouldn’t be as defensive as Jose Mourinho was that day, and they have the kind of mercurial talent behind the frontman that United wish they had. Eden Hazard looks great in his new role behind the frontman, and with Liverpool’s midfield not that defensively minded, we can see the Belgian slipping out of sight and finding some space. He’s scored five goals against Liverpool in his career, which is the highest number he’s scored against a Premier League side. We’re backing another strike from Hazard this week, and he’s priced at 7/4 with BetVictor to score any time.
While the Blues are unbeaten in their last six meetings with Liverpool at Anfield, four of those clashes have been draws. That includes the previous three meetings here, which have all finished 1-1. The draw has been the most popular result across the last eight encounters, landing in six of those clashes. We’re backing another 1-1 between these two here, which can be backed at 6/1 with Coral.