Could this be Jose Mourinho’s final game as Chelsea manager? Another defeat and surely his position would become untenable…
Chelsea v Liverpool
Live on BT Sport 1
Jose Mourinho’s post-match rhetoric is becoming increasingly desperate. Tuesday night’s suggestion that the Blues’ performance in a penalty shoot-out defeat to Stoke made critics look stupid, after they only equalised in the last minute of normal time and played the whole of extra time against 10 men but couldn’t score, was the latest in a long line of deflection tactics that onlookers are no longer willing to buy.
Chelsea are in crisis, and Mourinho looks every bit the mad man steering a sinking ship further towards their nadir.
The Blues now have just one win in their last seven matches in all competitions and, other than the win over Arsenal where they were significantly aided by Gabriel’s controversial red card, they’ve only beaten bottom-of-the table Aston Villa, League One Walsall and Israeli side Maccabi Tel Aviv since August.
Team News: Cesc Fabregas was dropped for the game against Stoke in midweek, but could return for this one. Thibaut Courtois, Pedro and Branislav Ivanovic all remain sidelined by injury.
Jurgen Klopp got his first win as Liverpool manager in midweek as a much-changed XI edged past Bournemouth in the Capital One Cup. Following a run of three draws it was just the result that the Reds had been looking for to kick-start their season.
The new Anfield boss had talked about a fear factor that was enveloping the club and hinted that any sort of win was essential to start combating that mentality. Now that they’ve got it, can they start to turn those draws – eight in their last 10 fixtures – into wins?
Liverpool have, however, now failed to score more than one goal in 14 of their 15 games this season, but to counteract that they’ve only conceded more than one goal in three of those 15 matches.
Team News: Daniel Sturridge is a major doubt as he looks to recover from his latest injury setback, but Christian Benteke is now fully fit again. Kolo Toure was forced off in midweek with a hamstring injury and is therefore also doubtful – although it is unlikely the Ivorian would feature regardless.
I’m finding it difficult to justify why a team that has won only one of their last seven matches are priced as short as 2.12 to beat a side that are unbeaten in their last 10. Of course some weight can be given to the fact that this Chelsea side is still made up of obvious world class players, but there’s no room for sentimentality where money and betting is concerned and we have to play it as we see it. The hosts are an outstanding price to lay as short favourites.
I also wouldn’t put anyone off backing Liverpool to make it back-to-back wins here at what could turn out to be a huge 3.90. As Klopp has alluded to, they haven’t done a great deal wrong since he joined the club and it was just about getting that first win on the board. Now that they have they can look to kick on.
Over/Under 2.5 Goals
Nine of Liverpool’s last 10 and 12 of their 15 games this season have had fewer than 2.5 goals. And the only time this season when Liverpool have scored more than once in a game was in one of only three games that Sturridge has played – he scored two of their three goals in that fixture.
Chelsea have also only scored more than once in a game in one – a 2-0 win against now bottom-of-the-table Aston Villa – of their last six matches. While four of the last five head-to-heads have seen fewer than three goals.
The statistics don’t suggest goals and so with Under 2.5 available to back at a relatively generous 1.91 it’s a bet that we simply have to side with.