Liverpool may be riding high after they rolled reigning Premier League champions Leicester City over when the Foxes visited Anfield at the weekend, but they’ve got a tricky trip to to the Capital on Friday is enough to give the Reds pause despite Reds boss Jurgen Klopp snagging a 3-1 win over Chelsea in his first trip to Stamford Bridge in charge of the Merseyside giants.
For big matches like this, there’s always a few decent football tips floating around if you want to take a punt with the bookies, but you don’t even have to read between the lines to see that they expect there to be goals in this one with Sadio Mane, who found the back of the net on his Anfield bow at the weekend, being offered to score and Liverpool to win at 11/2 and Diego Costa, who doubled up as the Blues drew with Swansea City, to score and the hosts to win at 3/1.
“He is a real warrior on the pitch,” explained Klopp, wary of the threat the Spaniard poses. “He uses his body all the time and that is a quality. He was nearly unstoppable against Swansea,” mused the German manager, hinting that the controversial striker is getting back to his best after struggling last season. “He is world class and that’s the best thing football fans can say about you.”
Chelsea manager Antonio Conte, who has already got one over on Liverpool with a narrow 1-0 victory during their respective pre-season tours of North America, is expected to hand deadline day signing David Luiz his second debut for the London club after drafting the Brazilian back in to the fold from Paris St. Germain. Long serving captain John Terry, of course, will be missing through injury after he picked up a knock in the draw with the Swans, leaving Gary Cahill to help get Luiz back in the groove at Stamford Bridge.
Fellow new-boy N’Golo Kante will almost certainly keep his place in the middle of the park and Eden Hazard, another player who is looking back to his imperious best, should join Willian to in the spaces that the Reds are prone to leave, but after they put four past Leicester, the aforementioned Frenchman an the likes of Serbian hard-man Nemanja Matic could play a far more important role than the flashy duo.
“They’ve seen us playing and they know we are not easy to play and that is what I thought most about in the last two days and what I will think about because there is always a way to create moments which you are not expecting,” said Klopp. “The problem is they maybe have the same plan,” conceded the Liverpool manager. “Last season was not a Chelsea season and now they are back on track, so we need to be ready for a real challenge.”
After dropping out of the starting eleven following a long haul flight from Brazil as he returned from international duty, Philippe Coutinho is expected to be handed his place back in the Reds forward line alongside the undroppable Mane. Adam Lallana, who scored added a cracker against the Foxes to build on his first goal for England earlier in the week, should also keep his spot, but there remains questions over whether Klopp will hand Daniel Sturridge a chance to prove himself as a central striker or stay the course with Roberto Firmino with the Brazilian bagging a brace at the weekend.
While Dejan Lovren is expected to return to partner Joel Matip after a head injury kept him out of Saturday’s match, there’s also questions to be asked at the back with Loris Karius — long tipped to take over first team duties for incumbent ‘keeper Simon Mignolet — fit again after breaking his hand in the loss to Chelsea in the United States. Also, will Alberto Moreno be drafted back in for his abilities on the counter-attack or will James Milner continue to operate as a makeshift fullback?
Either way, like I said earlier, we’re expecting goals — a result with both teams to score is being offered at 4/1 for the visitors and 3/1 for their hosts. Chelsea, who have scored at least twice in their first four matches, will be looking to improve on their paltry two wins in their last nine League meetings at Stamford Bridge while Liverpool, having snagged an impressive 50-goals this calendar year, won’t be so keen on upsetting that statistic.