Chelsea’s defeat at West Ham barely constitutes a shock given their form this season – which continued with a League Cup exit in midweek – and as the 15th best team in the country prepares to take on the 9th the ‘The Special One’ looks to be visiting the last chance saloon. At least he can look forward to a ‘special’ pay-off if this is to be the end of his reign.
The Blues season has been marked by a lack of discipline and they sit bottom of the fair play table after Matic’s red card last weekend and only three teams have committed more fouls this term. In contrast last season they committed the fewest fouls in the league (even if they did end in the bottom half of the fair play standings). They’ve not even had a particularly tough fixture list and while their defensive problems have been well documented the fact their attack has scored just twice from open play in their five home matches, while benefitting from three set piece goals and three own goals, highlights their troubles across the pitch.
Liverpool’s problems seem relatively benign in contrast; they simply have far less potential in their squad. Their very tough away schedule to start the season was always likely to be a problem but they’ve avoided defeat at Spurs, Everton and Arsenal already and those teams have all been playing better than the Champions. With Christian Benteke returning to fitness and Roberto Firmino completing 87 minutes in midweek the attack should be much sharper than the outfit that has scored more than once in just one of their last 13 games (and that was against Villa so is hardly relevant here).
Chelsea have won 15 of 18 unbeaten matches at home to top-half finishers in the previous two seasons but even though their price has been drifting all week we couldn’t touch them right now and with Liverpool having lost only four of their last 16 away matches, and generally looking solid at the back, we’d much rather back the Reds on the Double Chance at 4/5.
The goals market is struggling to split Over and Under 2.5 Goals but while Chelsea’s matches have tended to see goals this season Liverpool’s relatively solid defensive record – 10 clean sheets in their last 16 away matches – coupled with Chelsea’s troubles from open play mean we’d lean towards the ‘unders’. Nine of those 16 games have had fewer than two goals and given 15 of Jose Mourinho’s 21 home games for Chelsea against Arsenal, Liverpool, Man City and Man Utd have had fewer than three goals, 8/9 seems a decent price for Under 2.5 Goals. This fixture has finished 1-1 in two of the past three seasons and given their respective troubles a similar result is quite possible and the 1-1 can be backed at 13/2.
These teams played four times in all competitions last season and three of Chelsea’s five goals came from defenders, with one coming from a penalty. In a tight game John Terry could be the man to save his manager and is a big price at 25/1 to open the scoring.