Saturday, September 17, 2016, 5am at Stamford Bridge. Watch on Optus.
Chelsea: $2.25 with Sportsbet.com.au
Draw: $3.30 with Sportsbet.com.au
Liverpool: $3.20 with Sportsbet.com.au
CHELSEA’S unblemished start came undone against Swansea on Monday morning, while Liverpool continued to rain the goals, slotting four past English Premier League champions Leicester City.
These two teams have a dynamic rivalry and that will be put to the test at Stamford Bridge in the early hours of Saturday morning.
Set your alarms for 5am for this blockbuster from the Premier League.
The last time these two teams met at Stamford Bridge, the Reds embarrassed the struggling Chelsea side, 3-1.
The destroyer, as he so often is these days for Liverpool, was Philippe Coutinho, who slotted a pair of goals, first cancelling our Ramires’ fourth minute finish on the stroke of half time and then putting the Reds ahead in the 74th minute. Christian Benteke – now at Crystal Palace – scored the third to kill off the game.
But that was a season to forget for the Pensioners and they have started 2016 with a bang, reeling off three wins and a come from behind 2-2 draw against the Swans on Monday morning.
In that game, they struck first through a well executed shot from Diego Costa and they looked like they would pile it on after half time.
But the Swans came out a different side after the break and found the back of the net twice, first through a Gylfi Sigurdsson penalty and then from Leroy Fer to turn the tables.
But Costa was not done, giving himself a brace with a stunning overhead that rebounded in off a Swansea defender.
Chelsea pushed hard for an equaliser, but had no luck, and had to settle for a share of the points that still left them second on the table, two behind the perfect Manchester City.
The Blues are having a red hot crack at it under new manager Antonio Conte and the goals are flying in.
The main beneficiary of a little confidence from the manager has been star striker Diego Costa, whose double on Monday morning brought his season total to four in four games.
It has been a solid return to form for a player who struggled with injury and lack of confidence last season and – perhaps it is a little obvious – but we can’t ignore how well he is going and that makes him our pick to continue his superb run and fire in the first goal for Chelsea.
Liverpool has shown this year that it knows how to punish sides, firing in eight goals in two of its games, including the 4-1 win over the wayward Foxes on the weekend.
A Roberto Firmino double, either side of goals to Sadio Mane and Adam Lallana was the headline act of the Reds first game at Anfield this season.
Jamie Vardy managed the Foxes only goal in another effort that the Foxes will probably blame on a premiership hang over.
The win kept Liverpool within striking distance of the top four early on in the season.
Coutinho, Lallana, Firmino and Mane have been superb in attack this season and, given the Reds’ penchant for sharing the spoils this season, it appears a raffle for their first goal scorer.
They have already had eight individual goal scorers in four games – headed by Firming’s three, but we can’t go past Coutinho.
He has become their focal point and, at $8.50, he represents the best value, ahead of the likes of Danny Ings, Divock Origi, Mane and Daniel Sturridge, who are all at the $7.50 quote.
Manager Jurgen Klopp knows his side will be given all it can handle against their undefeated powerhouse opponent.
“It’s pretty much clear it will be a real challenge,” Klopp said.
“Chelsea plus the Italian manager – not a lot of space, I’m pretty sure.
“So we have to be prepared and we will be prepared.”
Chelsea: Thibaut COURTOIS, Branislav IVANOVIC, John TERRY, Gary CAHILL, Cesar AZPILICUETA, N’Golo KANTÉ, WILLIAN, OSCAR, Nemanja MATIC, Eden HAZARD, Diego COSTA
Liverpool: Simon MIGNOLET, Nathaniel CLYNE, Dejan LOVREN, Joel MATIP, James MILNER, Adam LALLANA, Jordan HENDERSON, Georginio WIJNALDUM, Sadio MANE, Roberto FIRMINO, Philippe COUTINHO
First goal scorer predictions
Philippe Coutinho ($8.50 with Sportsbet.com.au)
Match result: Chelsea to win ($2.25 with Sportsbet.com.au)
Correct match score: 3-2 ($21 $2.25 with Sportsbet.com.au)
Total match goals: over 2.5 ($1.74 $2.25 with Sportsbet.com.au)
Liverpool’s only game against quality opposition this season came at Arsenal and, while they won 4-3, they leaked goals and it is a concern up against a squad with the attacking talents Chelsea possesses. In attack, the Reds have been dynamite, but, defensively, they have, at times, looked disorganised and struggled to contain they opponents – they allowed lowly Burnley to score twice, despite dominating that encounter – Chelsea at home is a whole other proposition. Both sides have adopted an attacking mantra and it should make for an exciting, high scoring spectacle worth waking up for. Expect plenty of goals in this one.