We’ve been here before. Liverpool were on the brink of winning the Premier League in April 2014, until Chelsea came to town and spoiled the party with a 2-0 win. Steven Gerrard slipped over to present the Blues with the opening goal, an incident which is only referred to on social media on a daily basis.
Rangers, down to ten men from the 12th minute, concede a cruel late equaliser, mere seconds after manager Steven Gerrard insisted they don't let this hard fought lead slip. pic.twitter.com/WBSMwz2W4X
— Paddy Power (@paddypower) August 5, 2018
There’s quite a difference between that Chelsea team and the current one though.
For starters, Maurizio Sarri won’t turn up at Anfield looking like he’d spent the night sleeping in a bin, as Mourinho did.
But more importantly, Jose’s Blues were second in the table and in the middle of a Champions League semi-final with Atletico Madrid. A battle for fourth and the might of Slavia Prague isn’t quite the same, is it?
Even so, whatever shape Chelsea are in, they usually do well on the red half of Merseyside. Since Liverpool beat them there in 2012, the Blues have won three and drawn five of the eight Anfield meetings.
However, Paddy doesn’t think they’ll win on Sunday, and I’m inclined to agree. They may have won at Liverpool in the League Cup this season, but that was a high point.
Chelsea’s record in away league games when facing another top club under Sarri is ugly.
Played three, lost three, scored one and conceded 11. That’s worse looking than Phil Jones’ gurning.
By contrast, Klopp’s crew haven’t lost a home league game against a fellow big-six side for over three years, and have won their last three. Back them to make it four here.
Best bet: Liverpool to win at 4/7.
As a general rule, there’s little to divide these teams when they face off. Since that fateful day in 2014, just one of the 12 meetings has been settled by more than one goal. Both teams have found the net in 10 of that dozen games, but there has also only been at least three goals four times.
The sharper among you will have realised that means there have been quite a lot of 1-1 draws. There have been six in the last five years, including in four of the last six league meetings. The Reds are the masters of seeing both teams score in big league games. It’s happened in six of the last seven big matches at Anfield, and I expect both sides to find the net here.
While Paddy has a 1-0 home win as the favourite in the correct score, my nerdy numbers are pointing towards a 2-1 victory for the Reds. Another nerve wracking afternoon may lay in wait for the Anfield natives.
Best bet: Liverpool to win 2-1 at 13/2.
Eden Hazard is a remarkable player, and one who has a remarkable gift. He can be pretty quiet on the goal front for weeks at a time, but he can always find form shortly before Chelsea travel to Anfield, and often score once he gets there.
The Madrid-bound Belgian has scored a total of seven goals against four different teams across his career, with Liverpool the only top side among them and four of the goals coming away from home.
He scored a fabulous goal to knock the Reds out of the Carabao Cup, and also netted in the reverse fixture in September. But that was his only non-penalty goal in a big six league game in the last two years. Will his apparent loathing of Liverpool lead him to finally score in a massive match once again?
Best bet: Eden Hazard to score anytime at 11/4.
Liverpool have a man who is very much in form, but has yet to score against the Blues in six previous appearances against them. There’s something that the Kop want you to know, give the ball to Bobby and he will score. And that has been the case recently, as Firmino has four goals (plus three assists) in his last six matches. The Brazilian has also netted five non-penalty goals against other top six teams in the league this season, a tally only Sergio Aguero can top. His good run should continue on Sunday.
Best bet: Firmino to score first at 11/2.
Prices correct at time of publications