If Liverpool fans think their team’s season has gotten off of the rails, it’s time to take a look at their opponents for the weekend; Chelsea, who will be under the guidance of yet another new manager this Tuesday. Let’s take a look at the odds and make some picks for this battle between downtrodden giants.
Chelsea vs. Liverpool Odds
At home, Chelsea are narrow favorites with +140 odds, compared to Liverpool’s +195 and the draw at +250. For a goalscoring line of 2.5, the over is -125 while the under is even money.
Chelsea vs. Liverpool Prediction & Pick
In an almost-impossible show of ineptitude, Chelsea are on their third coach of the season- Graham Potter has been dismissed, just months after replacing Thomas Tuchel who himself was canned in early September.
Bruno Saltor will be the man in charge, and he inherits a Chelsea team that sits in eleventh place, and just barely scores over a goal per match. To make matters worse, they find themselves in this situation despite spending an outrageous 251 million Pounds over last summer’s transfer window, and an even more mind-boggling 323 million this January
Liverpool are in a tough spot themselves, after a shocking defeat to Bournemoth, who they beat 9-0 earlier this season, and a less-shocking but disappointing loss to Manchester City, who roared back to score 4 unanswered after a Mo Salah opener.
The Reds still have some high-level performances in them- nobody will soon forget the 7-0 drubbing of Man United. The consistency is simply gone, and it’s hard to know which iteration of the team will show up.
Still, you’ve got to pick the team in shaky form rather than the one in absolute free fall, and the manager who has won it all with his club rather than the one who, by his own admission, has never selected a lineup. I’ve got no specific gripes with Saltor, it’s just a tough place to start, and it’s hard to imagine it being too much of a success.
For the goalscoring, I haven’t much faith in Liverpool to keep even Chelsea’s anemic attack off of the scoresheet, while the Merseyside club’s front line has been somewhat rounding into form. At even money, I see the over as really solid value in a match of this stature, at least in theory.
Picks: Liverpool (+195), o2.5 goals (+100)
You need to score to win, and Chelsea’s front three have struggled in that pursuit this year. That being said, to take all three points on the road, Liverpool will need to control the midfield better than they have most of this season. Let’s take a look at how these key positional matchups will predicate Tuesday’s result.
Chelsea Attack vs. Liverpool Defense
Some of the highest-profile signings in those explosive transfer windows for Chelsea were attackers, although the results are not quite there, to say the least. This season overall, they’re the thirteenth-highest scoring side in the Prem, and the recent trend is not much better. Most recently, in what we now know was Potter’s last stand, they were shut out at home by a Villa side with a negative goal differential.
Mykhalo Mudryk, a Ukranian January transfer, is one of the biggest names Chelsea have recently brought in, and one of the biggest disappointments in his young tenure at Stamford Bridge. Though he’s passed the eye test in many ways, he’s picked up just one assist in 9 appearances for the club, and is still looking for that elusive first goal.
Conversely, João Félix has been pretty good for the Blues, other than missing time after being hilariously sent off in his Chelsea debut. Of the more tenured Chelsea attackers, Kai Havertz has been the steadiest presence, as he leads the team in goals.
Liverpool’s defense, while made up of many of the same players, has not been up to the standard it set for itself at the peaks of the Klopp era. Virgil van Dijk is still a great leader and a true veteran, but his physicality has been noticeably different as he begins to age, and suffer the consequences of Jordan Pickford’s reprehensibly dirty play. Trent Alexander-Arnold still has magic boots, but has some truly startling defensive lapses.
Andy Robertson is still pretty much elite, and Ibrahima Konaté, who spent some of the season injured, is establishing himself as a World-class centre back, as he’s put in some excellent performances. It’s just not always enough against the best of the best, which of course could theoretically include Chelsea when they’re really on their game. The question is whether that will be the case against a dangerous opponent, with a brand new boss.
The Midfield Battle
One relative bright spot for Chelsea has been the midfield, due to the services of both Chelsea mainstays and new transfers. They’ve been the fourth-best possession side in the league, and while it’s hard to know if Saltor will keep the same shape as his predecessor, he’s likely to center the group around the same players.
That group includes veterans N’Golo Kanté and Mateo Kovacic, a duo that has been at the heart of some of the greatest triumphs in club history, and Argentine rising star Enzo Fernández, who has continued his excellent World Cup form since arriving at the Bridge.
For Liverpool, the possession numbers are fine- they’re just a tick below Chelsea’s average- but the midfield has failed the eye test all season long. From Fabinho seemingly aging ten years overnight, to the continued decline of Jordan Henderson, and of course what is becoming a seemingly-perennial injury bug, there’s been myriad challenges for Klopp to Negotiate.
There haven’t been a ton of bright spots- my mind immediately goes to the still-solid performances of 37 year old James Milner, and the rise of teenager Stefan Bajcetic, who of course picked up an injury shortly after establishing himself as a full-time starter. This group is far from Liverpool’s strength, but it’s going to have to play closer to it’s best ability to pick up three huge road points in their somewhat-alive quest for the top four.