This weekend’s set of Premier League matches kicks off with Liverpool vs Chelsea in the early game on Saturday. It’s a clash in which Chelsea has the upper hand with three wins and a draw with Liverpool getting just one win in their last six meetings. This, of course, includes the fateful 2-0 win by Chelsea at Anfield last season. The one with that slip by Steven Gerrard. The slip that ended up leaving Liverpool finishing, yet again, without a Premier League trophy.
Still, this is a whole new season with a whole different set of expectations. It is fairly safe to say that expectations are high at both clubs and that only one of them is actually meeting these expectations.
Both Liverpool and Chelsea go into this week 11 match having played midweek Champions League matches. Liverpool have the fortune of having played on Tuesday while Chelsea lose a day of rest having to play on Wednesday.
It was an interesting choice for Brendan Rodgers to rest so many players. One which smacks of desperation. It is an obvious statement of intent from the manager to say that there was no way they were going to win at Real Madrid, so they might as well sit their important players and get that extra day for the Chelsea match.
Rodgers’ ego must be soothed at this point and he will certainly still be hurting from that slip-up at Anfield last season. He must not lose to Chelsea again this season and he will do whatever he can to make sure of that. Even sacrifice their chances in the Champions League, what little they had to begin with.
Jose Mourinho could just as easily rest players on Wednesday. They have control of their group and face Maribor in a match that was won 6-0 at Stamford Bridge the other week. Don’t be surprised to several key players, especially Diego Costa, rested for Wednesday’s away trip to Maribor.
What can be expected from the match then?
Statistically speaking Chelsea hold the clear advantage. They have a +16 goal difference after scoring 26 and allowing 10. This has given them an undefeated record of 8-2-0 for a total of 26 points.
This compares to Liverpool who are at 0 goal difference after allowing 13 goals and scoring just 13. They now sit in seventh place in the Premier League with a 4-2-4 record and 14 points; 12 behind Chelsea.
Looking even further into the stats here are a few very interesting things to look at.
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There are many categories that do little to separate them. In fact, quite a few of them are nearly identical. There are a few things to highlight. One of the big ones being the number of take-ons with Chelsea at 137 compared to Liverpool at 100. Much of this has to do with Chelsea’s new attacking play, particularly with the ability of players like Eden Hazard, Costa, Oscar, and Willian.
Additionally, if you look at some of the defensive metrics Liverpool has had more interceptions and clearances, however, this seems to be due more to the way they have been playing in the first and second thirds of the pitch.
A few things not listed that are of extreme relevance is the number of defensive errors as well as errors leading to goals. In both cases Chelsea has the advantage. Liverpool has had 12 defensive errors as compared to Chelsea at just 6. Errors leading to goals has Liverpool at 4 while Chelsea has zero.
This is a battle that will most likely be fought in the middle third but one and lost in the final third. Chelsea’s attacking options look so much better than the struggling Liverpool offense and the same could be said of the defensive back lines for both teams.
Liverpool look like they will leak goals if Chelsea simply breathe the right way.
Pick: A Chelsea win looks inevitable barring some major incident. They have strength in their squad wherever you look and Liverpool will have difficulty coping. It’s quite possible that Liverpool could find just the right tactic to counter Chelsea (like Manchester United did), but this is Brendan Rodgers we are talking about, and he will be far more focused on imposing his philosophy at home.
Liverpool win: 12/5; 3.40
Chelsea win: 11/10; 2.10
Draw: 5/2; 3.50