WILL DYER (@w2Dyer) returns to his bread and butter with a mid-week Premier League preview. Liverpool's confidence must be shot and with Chelsea coming to town that spells trouble, can they use this fixture to haul themselves out of this rut?
Liverpool v Chelsea | Tuesday 20:00 | BT Sport 1
Liverpool have hit a slump, in a big way. Tonight they play their fourth game at Anfield in the space of 10 days. The previous three visitors have all won by a one-goal margin and now Jürgen Klopp’s men face a much tougher task.
Last week the Reds were knocked out of both domestic cup competitions. Southampton did a wonderfully professional job, sticking to their game plan for the whole 90 minutes. Wolves then followed suit on Saturday against a rather naïve line-up.
Liverpool have now won just one of their last eight in all competitions. It should be noted that they’ve dominated the ball and most of the chances in those games but the quality of those has dropped significantly, as their creativity has been stifled by opposition’s tactics.
Southampton and Plymouth are both teams that have enjoyed defensive success this season at their respective levels but you couldn’t say the same for Wolverhampton and Swansea, yet both have left Anfield victorious.
Klopp’s side have scored just five goals in seven outings and this is even with Philippe Coutinho back for periods of the last three games. Daniel Sturridge is not accustomed to breaking down teams that sit and wait to counter and thus starting him has failed.
Liverpool need a change of tact. Whether Klopp has been working on that over the weekend remains to be seen but, even if he has, testing it against Chelsea certainly isn’t the best place to start.
The Blues have now won 15 of their last 16 Premier League matches and with Arsenal awaiting at the weekend this is a pivotal point in the race for the title.
With Diego Costa now seemingly content again and staying put, the dressing room is in a better place. I expect we’ll see a similar display to the one Antonio Conte’s men put on at Etihad last month.
Liverpool won 2-1 at Stamford Bridge earlier this season but it was early days in Conte’s reign, before he had opted for his favoured 3-5-2 formation.
At that point Liverpool were purring, the victories over Leicester and Arsenal demonstrating their intent and ability under Klopp. Chelsea were at a much lower ebb, so much so that fans were talking of Conte losing his job.
A response is needed from Liverpool after the recent results. The game being under the lights at Anfield is always a factor and some would say that this fixture presents the perfect opportunity to halt the decline and re-enter the title race. I don’t really view it like that.
Chelsea are top of the league and destroying almost everything in their path. For them a victory will be viewed as paramount with Arsenal visiting at the weekend. In the next five days they could all but win the league if other results go their way.
I fully expect Chelsea to feed on Liverpool’s low confidence here. I also find it strange that they aren’t favourites given recent form. I’ve toyed with the idea of the draw as security, you can back +0.0 on the Asian Handicap at 10/9 with BetVictor but I can’t help but think that the 2/1 with Betfair for a Chelsea win is way too big.
Liverpool v Chelsea – Chelsea to win (2/1 Betfair)