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Can Liverpool maintain their perfect start to the season?

Last updated: September 28, 2018 by Leon Marshal

Game details

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Kick-off: Saturday, 17:30
Venue: Stamford Bridge
Coverage: Sky Sports
Home Form: WWWWD
Away Form: WWWWW
Last Meeting: Chelsea 1 – 0 Liverpool
Competition: EPL

Wednesday night saw a dress rehearsal for this fixture where Chelsea shocked the Kop by winning 2-1, thanks to a late Eden Hazard strike. However, that game and result will tell us very little about what to expect here. Neither manager fielded a strong side and barely any of the players that started that match will start here.

We’ll have to look elsewhere for any clues about what to expect here then, but this match is the blueprint for one that looks good on paper. Two sides, unbeaten domestically so far, both playing a 4-3-3, both playing a high-press, both with attacking fullbacks overlapping the dangermen – the wide forwards – the source of most of both teams’ attacks. It’s Salah versus Hazard, Robertson versus Alonso, and – the world’s two most expensive goalkeepers – Alisson versus Arrizabalaga.

Chelsea’s win against Liverpool in midweek will be a confidence booster if nothing else. The Blues played West Ham in the league last weekend and were lacklustre. Despite dominating possession, Chelsea created little, and the game played out to a goalless draw, with Chelsea coming close to losing. Hazard scored a wonder goal on Wednesday night, a signal of an immediate return to form. Chelsea have a couple of personnel problems though. Pedro is unlikely to be risked, while Antonio Rüdiger, partner of David Luiz in the league’s second best defence, is also likely to miss out due to a hamstring complaint.

Losing that match shouldn’t impact anything for Liverpool here. What will impact Liverpool tremendously is the fitness of Virgil van Dijk. While the whole defence has been faultless, van Dijk is the leader, and should he not be allowed to play due to a bruised rib, the scales will immediately be tipped in Chelsea’s favour. Sadio Mane started the match on Wednesday, one of just a handful of players likely to start here that did, but he should still play here. Mohamed Salah returned to scoring form last weekend and scoring here against one of the league’s best should put to rest any claims that he is going through a poor run of form.

Team News

Pedro wasn’t in the squad against West Ham after a shoulder injury incurred in the Europa league. He should return to at least the bench.

Antonio Rüdiger went off with a hamstring complaint against West Ham. Initial reports are that it is a minor injury, but he is still a doubt for this one.

Liverpool will be hoping that Virgil van Dijk is passed fit after coming off with a knock last weekend.

Dejan Lovren is still working his way up to match fitness, so Joel Matip will likely once again start should van Dijk not feature.

Expected Line-Ups:

Chelsea (4-3-3): Arrizabalaga, Azpilicueta, Rüdiger, Luiz, Alonso, Kante, Jorginho, Kovacic, Willian, Giroud, E Hazard
Subs: Pedro, Barkley, Caballero, Moses, Zappacosta, Cahill, Morata
Doubtful: Rüdiger, Pedro
Not available:
Liverpool (4-3-3): Alisson, Alexander-Arnold, Gomez, van Dijk, Robertson, Wijnaldum, Henderson, Keita, Mané, Firmino, Salah
Subs: Fabinho, Milner, Shaqiri, Matip, Sturridge, Moreno, Mignolet
Injured: Lallana, Chamberlain
Doubtful: van Dijk
Not available:

So Far This Season

. . .
Chelsea This Season Liverpool This Season
3rd League Position 1st
3 (2) Wins (away) 3 (3)
4 – 1 v Cardiff Biggest Win 4 – 0 v West Ham
0 (1) Draws (away) 0 (0)
Biggest Defeat
Hazard (5) Top Goal Scorer Mané (4)
Y5, R0 Discipline Y5, R0
16% Failures to Score 0
50% Clean Sheets 50%
33% Both Teams to Score Games 33%
66% Over 2.5 Goals 66%
33% Under 2.5 Goals 33%
  • Chelsea dropped their first points last week, but statistically they are very close with Liverpool. Both teams have scored 14 goals, while Chelsea have conceded 4 to Liverpool’s 2 goals.
  • Liverpool have conceded just two goals all season in the league. Virgil van Dijk has played in all those games however, and if he is absent here, then Liverpool will certainly not be as defensively strong as usual.
  • Chelsea beat Liverpool in the last meeting, and the teams are closely matched over recent years, with two wins and four draws apiece in the last eight meetings.
  • While these teams top the league table, they are bottom of the discipline table, with just five yellow cards each. While that could suggest a low discipline points game, the nature of this one means it could get feisty.

Head to Head

Last 5 meetings between the two sides
Date Competition Game Result First Goal-scorer
26/09/2018 Caraboa Cup Liverpool 1 – 2 Chelsea Sturridge 58′
06/05/2018 EPL Chelsea 1 – 0 Liverpool Giroud 32′
25/11/2017 EPL Liverpool 1 – 1 Chelsea Salah 65′
31/01/2017 EPL Liverpool 1 – 1 Chelsea Luiz 24′
16/09/2016 EPL Chelsea 1 – 2 Liverpool Lovren 17′

Conclusion & Betting Tips

If van Dijk were a certainty to start, then we would fancy Liverpool here. Both teams have a similar approach; a high-press, with attacks mostly coming down the flanks. Both defences should know where the danger is likely to come from then, but the difference is, Liverpool are much better at playing it through the middle, and will be able to switch things up as necessary.

Chelsea have also had much less time to settle under a new manager and it remains to be seen how they fare when going behind in a game against a tough opponent.

For those reasons, we fancy Liverpool, but Chelsea will surely be able to carve out opportunities should van Dijk not play. Wait to see the team-sheets, and if van Dijk doesn’t play, then we think both teams to score will be a safer bet. Either way, there will be little to separate these two, so those that fancy a gamble can go for the draw at LV Bet.