Jurgen Klopp and Thomas Tuchel renew their rivalry when Liverpool host a confident Chelsea side on Saturday.
English Premier League
Saturday 28 August
To Win Match
Liverpool 15/10 | Draw 23/10 | Chelsea 18/10
You would be a seriously brave punter to take on Liverpool here. They’ve come through the worst of their injury woes and will have their faithful followers clamouring back into Anfield for every home game.
It would be remiss of me not to mention that on Saturday afternoon, colours and pride aside, as a football fan surely you enjoyed listening to ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’ being sung with all the passion and love we have come to know. Anfield will be rocking on Saturday evening and I’m almost harping on about it because it truly is that big of a factor – let alone in games such as these.
I wouldn’t say that Liverpool are back to their best, but Jurgen Klopp has certainly put his side on the path to glory once again. They have a full complement of players available, littered with talent and depth in every area, but I think Liverpool might still have problems…however, they are all the right ones to have.
Andy Robertson was named on the bench against Burnley and I’m very intrigued to see whether Klopp gives him the nod over Konstantinos Tsimikas. The Greek defender has taken to Liverpool effortlessly and naturally already begun offering important value. We know how important attacking defenders are to the Liverpool model, so how that selection headache plays out will be fascinating.
Another exciting avenue is of course how van Dijk deals with Romelu Lukaku. Of course, when you have a big target striker upfront you are inclined to forgive sides who knock the ball around until they look for a direct option isolating the striker and defender into a 1v1 duel. That will happen often and given how intelligent and confident the Dutch defender is I don’t think it’s as easy as you might expect to bully him.
Liverpool is among the best at catching teams offside and van Dijk’s movement and leadership often sees him in the last ranks dictating the movement of the Reds’ line. The difference, however, is I don’t suspect Lukaku will want to let the ball run, he’ll likely welcome and relish the physical challenge. I’m not sure where van Dijk’s mentality is after his injury but if he’s hesitant don’t be surprised to see him come off second best all game.
This Chelsea side is seriously dangerous. I know its early to start talking about Champions, but there is surely no doubt they will contest that top spot come May next year.
They are a side full of understanding, physicality, skill, and pace. They have a clear identity and obviously trust their manager. The brilliance of Thomas Tuchel lies in his ability to put this Chelsea side together to ensure defensive resilience without compromising on his attacking potency.
The numbers don’t lie. Since the German took office, Chelsea are top in the log for clean sheets (13) and shots on target (123). How can anyone argue that the foundation and potential for this team not to challenge anyone in the League, anywhere… doesn’t exist?
You add to this equation, the addition of Lukaku, a proven goal scorer and quality striker, someone who, importantly, has played in the league before and will understand the level and pace at which the game in England is played. He’ll also play with a chip on his shoulder and from experience, you would suggest that is when you get the best out of him.
His first game against Arsenal had him bullying defenders and just assaulting them really. Aggressively wanting to drive Chelsea forward, holding up the ball and bringing others into an attacking space, and then of course shushing the home crowd after putting their bitter rivals in front.
This will be a pulsating game, but I’m not as convinced by Liverpool at the moment as I am Chelsea. While Liverpool seems to have found the path again and are now finding their feet, Chelsea is tearing up the path and imposing their will and confidence on everything in sight.
Prediction: Chelsea Win 18/10
I’m not necessarily one for blindly chasing odds, but at 37/20 I am all over Chelsea. I think they win this game – and I don’t doubt it will be an absolute cracker. I feel the Blues are better suited to control it and take their chances in difficult moments. I guess this makes me a brave punter. Get on!