The transfer deadline day buzz will be put on hold for 90 minutes when Liverpool host runaway leaders, Chelsea, at Anfield. The Reds come into this game in horrendous form, winning just once in their last six matches across all competitions, at the time of writing. Much of Liverpool’s downfall is caused by African maestro Sadio Mane, who is representing Senegal at the African Cup of Nations. And in the Blue corner; Chelsea currently lead the standings by eight points – 10 clear of Liverpool. Antonio Conte’s Chelsea also come into this game winning 15 of their last 16 games. It’s easy to tell which side come into this encounter better prepared, but the Reds have not tasted defeat in five matches against the Blues, making this game even more enticing. Who will come out on top? Anfield awaits…
The wheels are starting to come off in Liverpool’s title race. Jurgen Klopp’s side are now winless in three Premier League matches, failing to pick up a win since the start of 2017 and the departure of Sadio Mane.
Something needs to change and Klopp has until matchday to sign somebody to boost their title charge. Liverpool’s defensive woes continued against Swansea as the partnership of Dejan Lovren and Ragnar Klavan failed to keep up with the threat that Fernando Llorente and co posed towards them in their 3-2 home defeat against Swansea.
That was Liverpool’s first defeat at Anfield this season, and without a doubt, Chelsea will prove to be a much bigger challenge, so the Reds will need to step up their game big time. Players like Philippe Coutinho, Adam Lallana and Daniel Sturridge need to do more for the team if they still want Liverpool to be in the conversation of the title contenders.
Roberto Firmino netted a brace in their defeat against Swansea last weekend and sort of celebrated in very Luis Suarez-like fashion, diving to the ground in the corner flag after his superbly struck second goal.
With Mane no longer in the team, Klopp will need his Red army to come out guns blazing and pick up their first Premier League win in the Senegalese’s absence. I’m sure Klopp cannot wait for the AFCON tournament to be over with.
Despite this recent slump, Liverpool have netted the most goals in the league (51) and completed the most passes in the division (13371). On his day, Coutinho has the ability to unlock any defence in world football. The Brazilian holds the key to Liverpool’s chances in this tie. His long shots, technical ability and vision to pick out a pass make him one of the best playmakers in the league. If he’s on form, you get the feeling that Liverpool could walk away the happier of the two teams.
Chelsea may not have the large amount of goalscorers like their opponents, but the Blues have one player who is outscoring every Liverpool member at the moment. Diego Costa is that man. The Spanish striker is just one of 10 Chelsea players to find the back of the net this season, but the amount of goals he has contributed has been terrific.
Antonio Conte was glad to welcome Costa back into the team last weekend as he showed his class against Hull City. Conte will be even happier, knowing that he now holds an eight-point advantage over their closest title-rivals, Arsenal.
The Blues haven’t been linked with the usual superstars like in previous transfer windows, but a man they are in talks to sign, Fernando Llorente, showed some Chelsea loyalty already by denting Liverpool’s title hopes with a brace against the suspect keeper, Simon Mignolet.
It’s revenge time for Chelsea after it was Liverpool who were the only team to pick up maximum points at Stamford Bridge this season. The only worry for the Blues is that they have failed to beat the Reds in five matches across all competitions.
Conte has been all about setting records this season and that is one unwanted feat he would love to change. With Costa back in the side, he gets the best out of the entire team. Eden Hazard and Pedro are given more freedom on either flank, while the double pivot of Nemanja Matic and N’Golo Kante can burst further forward and pick out a pass to create the attack.
Costa has been Chelsea’s standout player this season. The 28-year old will be licking his lips at the thought of going up against Dejan Lovren and Ragnar Klavan.
Mignolet; Clyne, Lovren, Klavan, Milner; Henderson, Wijnaldum, Can; Lallana, Firmino, Coutinho.
Courtois; Azpilicueta, Luiz, Cahill; Moses, Kante, Matic, Alonso; Pedro, Costa, Hazard.
Prediction: Chelsea (18/10)
Despite the fact that Chelsea have not beaten the Reds in five meetings, Conte will have no better chance to break that record with Liverpool going through a mini-crisis without Mane. With Costa in red-hot sizzling form, the Blues should pick up maximum points. This is the best price you will get on Chelsea this season; get on!