While the rest of us are catching our breaths from their last encounter, Chelsea and Liverpool will once again lock horns at the weekend. The Blues will be out for revenge after losing a 5-3 Anfield thriller at the tail end of last season. Liverpool had already been confirmed as champions at that stage; Chelsea had Champions League qualification to secure.
The shackles were off for the home side, who took advantage of the well-known defensive frailty of their opponents, racing into a three-nil lead in the first half. A goal on the stroke of half-time by Olivier Giroud gave Chelsea a sliver of hope for the second half. Goals from Tammy Abraham and Christian Pulisic after the break would have brought the visitors level if not for recurring ineptitude at the back. Cancelling out this fightback, Firmino and Oxlade-Chamberlain also scored to maintain that two-goal advantage. For neutrals, it was a joy to behold.
The entertainment extended over to the touchline, where Frank Lampard clashed with the Liverpool bench. A foul-mouthed tirade from Lampard was caught on camera. While the Chelsea manager regretted his language, he later labelled the Liverpool bench ‘arrogant’ in what could be interpreted as an apparent attempt to justify his behaviour. And it didn’t end there. Sniping remarks have followed, with the build-up to this game featuring Klopp aiming a dig at Chelsea’s lavish spending and Lampard retorting that this hypocrisy was ‘amusing’.
Both make decent points. Chelsea have bought lavishly. More than £200 million has been spent to improve the starting XI – with more money on its way out for incoming Rennes goalkeeper Edouard Mendy. This may be the most important signing of all for Chelsea given the liability that Kepa has become. Sure, Lampard has a point about Klopp’s flimsy principles – he bought Allison for a price similar to that of Kepa – but at least the German has spent shrewdly. Having said that, his defense could do with a hearty bout of coaching. Virgil Van Dijk was rightfully praised for the role he has played in turning Liverpool’s fortunes around but he has been below his best for months. A mistake in the recent 4-3 win over Leeds highlighted his slipping standards. No outfield player has made more errors leading to goals in the Premier League since the start of the 2018-19 season than Van Dijk, who has been directly at fault for three.
Liverpool have conceded an average of two goals per game in their last four games against Chelsea. Now, with a new and improved attack, it can be expected that Chelsea will emulate Leeds and breach the Liverpool defence. What will determine Chelsea’s success is how their own defence copes and we wouldn’t put money on them keeping the Reds out. They have failed to keep clean sheets in six of their last seven matches against Liverpool. Goals are to be expected and anyone putting money on the fixture should consider backing both nets to bulge, especially if they were to use Betway’s sign-up offer. Betway is currently offering new customers a sign-up bonus of up to £30. Wincomparator always highlights the best betting offers for new customers and right now, Betway is taking up the spotlight; as is this game. Matchday two may be too early in the season to hype up a clash as one between title contenders. So, let’s not. Let’s look forward to it for everything that can be expected to unfold on the pitch, not what the wider narrative means. An attacking feast will be served up on Sunday. Tuck in.