Jurgen Klopp’s 200th game as Liverpool manager could not be any bigger as he takes on an under-fire Chelsea side at Anfield on Saturday afternoon.
To Win Match
Liverpool 9/10 | Draw 28/10 | Chelsea 29/10
Liverpool have been horrendous of late, horrible in fact. Jurgen Klopp has once again become the manager who is annoyed by media questions and frustrated with any suggestion that there is something wrong with his side…that was until the Brighton game at least. After accepting responsibility for the defeat and admitting that his midfield maneuver failed – the German lamented that it was one of the worst display’s he’s seen.
I must admit that I was quite surprised to see a lot of the criticism levelled at Liverpool revolved around their defensive insecurity and their midfield issues. To focus solely on their last line would be naïve and to ignore their midfield trouble would be to pander to what Liverpool once again were a few months ago.
The trio of Jordan Henderson, Fabinho and Thiago in the centre of the field (with Thiago fulfilling a strange roaming role in-behind the front two) wasn’t good enough. Or at the very least, not good enough to deal with the confident barrage Brighton presented.
I mean don’t get me wrong, Liverpool has brilliant talent upfront, but there is no player in the world who can feed only off scraps and drag their side to some sort of victory. If Liverpool can’t fix their midfield issues soon, this team could spiral out of control sooner rather than later and may find themselves ‘rebuilding’ once again.
Predicted Line-up: Alisson, Robertson, Konate, Matip, Alexander-Arnold, Thiago, Fabinho, Keita, Gomez, Gakpo, Salah
Now I don’t mean to give this article a defensive theme, but Chelsea is pretty much in the same boat when it comes to their last line. Simply put, Chelsea is too easy to score against. In a league where defensive prowess and adaptability give your team the foundation required to compete – Chelsea concede far too many goals.
The Blues currently concede (on average) two goals per game in the league. I know that Graham Potter prides himself on the ability to have his team defend by putting pressure on the opposition further up the pitch…but he must be more adaptable than that. Chelsea must be a side teams find difficult to score against, lest he ensure his Blues are constantly trying to claw their way back into games.
I’m not one to shovel blame solely on the manager and his staff, but when a side just cannot defend set pieces or show a defensive disorganization – that is on the manager.
I feel a bit for João Félix, a lot will be made in the media about his suspension, but that is only because I think people identify him as a threat. He showed the ability he has in a short stint before seeing red, but I agree that he could be what they need upfront.
As far as this game goes though, the weakness of both sides complements each other’s strengths…don’t expect too many fireworks here.
Predicted Line-up: Kepa, Chalobah, Silva, Badiashile, Hall, Gallagher, Jorginho, Kovacic, Ziyech, Havertz, Mount.
Verdict: Draw + Under 2.5 (44/10)
It’s a tough game to call, as I said earlier, both teams’ strengths are quelled by their weaknesses…Liverpool don’t have the midfield to allow their attacking players to put a tremendous amount of pressure on Chelsea. Likewise, Chelsea don’t have the defensive organization or toughness to deal with threats Liverpool have upfront.
I can’t split them, and I think it might end up being a rather dull affair…back the draw and under 2.5 goals at generous odds.