With both sides far from impressive in the opening exchanges, there will be plenty at stake when Chelsea and Liverpool square off at Stamford Bridge, with The Special One vs The Normal One encounter another perk that football fans across the globe can look forward to this weekend.
This time last season, Chelsea were sitting pretty at the Premier League summit after winning eight of first ten league fixtures and only sharing spoils with Manchester rivals on the road, and yet they now find themselves much closer to the relegation zone than the top of the standings. And as much as Jose Mourinho is keen to point out that the media have something against him, it is high time he owned up to his mistakes with the Blues having already suffered five defeats in the league this season, which is two more than they had the entire last term. And while the midweek’s League Cup exit at the hands of Stoke City could prove a blessing in disguise now that Chelsea don’t exactly need further distractions from the shocking Premier League campaign, another failure against an average Premiership side is not exactly going to improve the dressing room atmosphere, which appears to be at an all time low. But, despite all the problems, this is still virtually the same team that dominated the world’s best league just a year ago, meaning Liverpool will have to work hard for a good result on Saturday. Jose Mourinho is sweating over the fitness of star striker Diego Costa, while Pedro Rodriguez is doubtful as well and Nemanja Matic returns.
Liverpool haven’t done much better than their Premier League rivals this term, but the atmosphere at Anfield is much better than in the opposition camp. This has everything to do with the arrival of Jurgen Klopp, whose infectious personality has been a real breath of fresh air at Merseyside, but it is clear that his players will have to show improvement if the Reds are to achieve pre-season ambitions. The reality is that Liverpool were quite unfortunate to have a number of important men suffer serious injuries since the season started, so no wonder the team have struggled with the busy schedule. But, following several promising displays, the Reds finally recorded the first win under the new manager, with fringe players producing a very good performance to defeat AFC Bournemouth in the Capital One Cup last 16 stage. Liverpool will now have bigger fish to fry as they are up against a wounded lion that is Chelsea, but they will also have some important footballers back to the side. Christian Benteke is fit to start having recovered from a knee problem, whereas James Milner is back from suspension. Meanwhile, Kolo Toure and Daniel Sturridge are both unavailable.
With Chelsea players completely out of confidence and Jose Mourinho desperate to avoid another defeat, the Blues could struggle to carve out any clear-cut chances, especially if Diego Costa fails to recover. Meanwhile, the Reds are not firing on all cylinders either, so we believe that at least one of the two sides will fail to register a goal.
Verdict: Both teams to score – No
Best Odds: 19/20
Bookmaker: William Hill