Friday 16th September. 8PM. Sky Sports 1
Amazingly, neither Chelsea or Liverpool are in European competition this season. But on a brighter note, it does allow for a fascinating Friday night offering at Stamford Bridge.
Not only have these two clubs been amongst the most exciting outfits to watch at the start of 2016-17, but they’ve also shared some classic battles over the past decade or so. When you add the new rivalry between Antonio Conte and Jurgen Klopp into the mix, it all makes for the perfect start to another thrilling weekend of sport.
Bring it on!
Can Diego Costa Keep Scoring?
Following a disappointing campaign in 2015-16, Diego Costa has gained a new lease of life under his new manager and looks more like the player that fired Chelsea to the Premier League title two years ago. If the Brazilian-born Spaniard can continue to lead the line with such authority, then the Blues will have a fantastic chance of fighting for honours this term too.
Chelsea are no longer reliant on one striker, though, as Michy Batshuayi has also shown huge promise during the early weeks of the season. With Eden Hazard back to his best too, the Blues have ample reason to be confident.
A win against Liverpool would fire another huge signal of intent, especially as it would take them top until Saturday afternoon. Conte will have been disappointed and angered by a poor display at Swansea last weekend, but the potential debuts of Marcos Alonso and the returning David Luiz will give the hosts a new sense of energy.
This will be Chelsea’s hardest home game of the season so far, especially if skipper John Terry does miss out after picking up an injury at Swansea. But if they play to their potential, they have every chance of sealing a crucial win.
Which Liverpool Will Turn Up?
Jurgen Klopp’s side have provided bags of entertainment in the early weeks of 2016-17, and their unpredictable nature has been the key feature. When playing well, they’ve played both Arsenal and Leicester City off the park; when they’re bad, though, they’ve lost to Burnley.
In truth, this Jekyll and Hyde syndrome has been present throughout Klopp’s first year in charge. However, a 3-1 win at Stamford Bridge last term underlines what this team is capable of achieving. With the additions of Sadio Mane and Georginio Wijnaldum providing extra quality over the summer, the Reds have every reason for optimism.
Liverpool have still shown glimpses of those defensive weaknesses, even in the wins against Arsenal and Leicester. However, their aggressive pressing will always give them a chance of success. If they bring their best, the likes of Philippe Coutinho and Roberto Firmino have more than enough quality to put Chelsea to the sword.
Whichever Reds side turns up, it should be a classic Friday night encounter. Let’s just hope we can win some money too.
Chelsea v Liverpool Betting
With home advantage on their side, it’s Chelsea who enter Friday’s encounter as the favourites at odds of 5/4 with Bet365. However, Liverpool shouldn’t be ruled out at 11/5 while many punters may also fancy 12/5 on the draw.
It will be a tense atmosphere at the Bridge, but it’s hard to envisage a boring match between sides managed by Conte and Klopp. Both teams will fancy their chances, and both are capable of scoring goals. We’re confident that it will materialise into a fascinating Friday night showdown.
Neither side has quite perfected the defensive issues just yet, which could also lead to relatively open contest. There’s a good chance that both teams will score but, given that they each have the ability to run away with things too, we think the smarter money is on over 2.5 goals.
Whatever happens, it will be a feisty contest. Meanwhile, the combination of fast attacking players and vulnerable defenders makes us feel that there could well be a penalty awarded.
Let’s face it; the stricter rules from corners could also have an impact. Generally speaking, this is probably the best time to back penalties until things settle down. At 7/2, we think there’s value in backing one on Friday night.