If this is the kind of treat that ‘Friday Night Football’, the new hype and bluster vehicle from Sky Sports, is set to serve up then it might just become a permanent feature of the Premier League schedule. Two giants of the English game in top form….what could be better.
Chelsea, they of the unbeaten record, welcome a Liverpool side to Stamford Bridge that is causing absolute havoc with the ball at their feet; not so much when the time comes to defend.
Yes, it may only be September, but this fixture has the feel of one of those ‘six pointers’ that can have serious ramifications at the business end of the campaign. So who will have that Friday feeling, and who will have a weekend of moping ahead of them?
Two mad minutes cost Chelsea their 100% record on Sunday, and they went from comfortable 1-0 leaders to 1-2 down seemingly in the blink of an eye.
What went wrong? Complacency probably; they once again had three points at their mercy.
Continuity is key and the Blues have plenty of it: Antonio Conte will be able to name at least ten of the side that has gone on this fantastic run to date. The only absentee looks likely to be John Terry, who suffered a foot injury in Wales and faces a week or two on the sidelines.
That means that David Luiz will make his full Chelsea ‘debut’ on his return to the fold, and whether you rate him or not will determine whether you see that as a good thing. He’s quicker and a better technical defender than Terry, and that might help to repel these dynamic Liverpool attacks, but his penchant for a moment of madness is likely to be sorely tested by Roberto Firmino and co.
Generally making a prediction on the outcome of a football match takes care of itself; usually we favour one side over the other even if it is a gut feeling than logical thinking.
With the Liverpool side….well, you get the impression that anything is possible. They’ve blasted four goals past both Arsenal and reigning champions Leicester, and then suffered the ignominy of failing to score against Burnley despite having 81% possession of the ball. The mind boggles.
We’d prefer instead to focus on their 1-1 draw with Tottenham, which feels like slightly more reliable middle ground. They were decent that day, and if they show that sort of solidity at the Bridge on Friday then they can take something from the game.
But the key for us is Liverpool’s central defensive problem. Lucas Leiva has been covering there in the interim while Dejan Lovren recovers from injury, and the Brazilian simply isn’t a defender as witnessed by his calamitous mistake for Jamie Vardy’s goal last week.
Chelsea feel like the more dependable outfit, particularly at home, and as such their price of 13/10 with William Hill appears both justified and fair.
There is a strong case to be made for a Both Teams to Score wager here. These two sides have only kept one clean sheet between them all season – and have no problem putting the ball in the net as previously discussed – and with both looking likely to be missing a key centre back the case mounts for goals here.
Intriguingly, the last ten Chelsea-Liverpool clashes have also recorded a BTTS verdict, so we’ll take the mark even at a paltry 8/13 with bet365 – this feels like a near certainty.
We’re on the goal train so we may as well stay on board: backing two potentials in the First Goalscorer is our last play of this game. Diego Costa, scorer in three of four games so far this campaign, and Roberto Firmino – he of the brace against Leicester, can be backed in this market at 5/1 and 7/1 with Paddy Power and Betfair respectively. They appear to have as strong a case as anyone.
Chelsea to Win at 13/10 with William Hill
Both Teams to Score at 8/13 with bet365
Diego Costa First Goalscorer at 5/1 with Paddy Power
Roberto Firmino First Goalscorer at 7/1 with Betfair