Who: Liverpool FC vs. Chelsea FC
What: English Premier League Week 36
Where: Anfield, Liverpool, England
When: Sunday April 27, 2014
Weather: The Weather Channel forecast Anfield
Time: 2:05 p.m. BST/9:05 a.m. ET/6:05 a.m. PT
TV: NBC Sports Network, NBC Sports Live Extra (U.S.); Sky Sports 1/HD, LFC TV Online (UK)
Worldwide Live streams and TV Channels: LiveSoccerTV.com
Radio: SiriusXM FC SIRI 94 (Internet 94; Spanish 157), TalkSport Radio
Referee: Martin Atkinson
3-Way Odds: Liverpool -165, Chelsea +430, Draw +315
Total: Over 2½ -170, Under 2½ +140
Decimal Odds: Liverpool 1.61, Chelsea 5.30, Draw 4.15
Decimal Total: Over 2½ 1.59, Under 2½ 2.65
Fractional Odds: Liverpool 20/33, Chelsea 43/10, Draw 63/20
Fractional Total: Over 2½ 10/17, Under 2½ 7/5
Alternate Odds: Liverpool -½ +110, Chelsea +½ -130
Liverpool -1 Even, Chelsea +1 -120
Liverpool -1½ +155, Chelsea +1½ -185
Over 3½ +145, Under 3½ -175
Over 4½ +325, Under 4½ -425
First Half: Liverpool -½ +110, Chelsea +½ -130
Over 1 -170, Under 1 +140
Liverpool +110, Chelsea +350, Draw +150
Odds to Win Premier League: Liverpool 1/6, Manchester City 9/2, Chelsea 33/1
Source: Bovada (Kahnawake, Canada)
3-Way Odds: Liverpool -150, Chelsea +400, Draw +300
Total: Over 3 -105, Under 3 -115
Source: LVH SuperBook (Las Vegas, Nevada, USA)
Much of the luster of this showdown between Chelsea and Liverpool was taken off when Sunderland upset the Blues at Stamford Bridge last Saturday. But make no doubt about it, this match at Anfield on Sunday will still thrill no matter which players Jose Mourinho plays against the English Premier League leaders.
With injuries, a suspension and many decisions to be made with the second return leg of Chelsea’s UEFA Champions League semifinals series against Atletico Madrid looming on Wednesday, the Blues' 51-year-old Portuguese manager hinted that whatever decision he made would probably not be his and his alone.
"I can't decide by myself," Mourinho said in BBC Sport. "I'm just the manager. I have to listen to the club."
So, with injuries to star Chelsea players Petr Cech (shoulder), John Terry (ankle) and Eden Hazard (hamstring) and the four-match suspension of Ramires, The Special One and club management will now have to be especially good at plugging the perfect person into the perfect place against the Reds.
Blues fans will bemoan the fact that their remote hopes of still winning the league title may be in the like-never-used hands of 38-year-old goalkeeper Henrique Hilario.
Heard any good jokes lately?
But if anything, Chelsea (23-6-6, 75 points) are known for their grittiness and heart, and even if guys like Tomas Kalas, Marco van Ginkel, Andreas Christensen and Nathan Ake end up playing, first-placed Liverpool (25-5-5, 80 points) will have to earn the three points. This fairly deep Blues squad still has players like Branislav Ivanovic, Gary Cahill, Cesar Azpilicueta, Ashley Cole, Nemanja Matic, John Obi Mikel and Frank Lampard to help whoever it is that ends up getting the call in goal.
Hardly "B-Team" material there.
Should Mourinho and staff decide to make sure Mark Schwarzer’s rested for the Atletico game, Hilario will likely get the call, but so often what Mourinho says or hints at early on and what’s bandied about in the media never materializes, so we’ll all just have to wait and see. Only Roman Abramovich, Eva Carneiro and The Madman himself may actually know.
On the attack, with playmaker Hazard still out and aiming to return on Wednesday at Stamford Bridge against Los Rojiblancos, the Blues may just have three players, with Lampard, Matic and Mikel all potentially starting in the central midfield.
And with Mohamed Salah being cup-tied for Champions League, no doubt he gets a start as one of two possible attacking midfielders with possibly Oscar or Andre Schurrle as the other. At striker, Demba Ba would be a logical choice here, but former Liverpool star Fernando Torres could also get the call against his old team as Samuel Eto’o (knee) continues to mend in hopes of playing against Atletico.
So, all in all, Reds manager Brendan Rodgers and his side will be facing a team completely capable of upsetting its little apple cart in Merseyside this weekend. But Liverpool have all of the things going for them a team would want heading into a game as big as this one.
Scoring goals against the club with the best defense in the EPL is no easy thing, but with Cech and club heartbeat Terry out, the high-flying and healthy Reds will be confident heading in. With the trophy in sight, expect Liverpool (96 goals) to continue its pursuit of their first league title since 1989-90 as well as Chelsea’s individual season record scoring mark (103 goals, 2009-10).
Aspirin please. Something stronger if you’ve got it, sister.
The Reds have the two leading scorers in the Premier League in Luis Suarez (30 goals) and Daniel Sturridge (20 goals), but anyone thinking this is a two-man show hasn’t really been watching what’s been going on over at Anfield this season.
Thirty-three-year-old team captain Steven Gerrard (13 goals) has been absolutely wonderful in his role as a leader and field general for Liverpool this campaign. Additionally, guys like 19-year-old Raheem Sterling (nine goals), Martin Skrtel (seven goals), Philippe Coutinho (five goals) and Jordan Henderson have all had seasons that can’t help but make Reds fans a little bit giddy.
No team in the league has played better as a unit this season as Liverpool, and the club has consistently been the hottest team on the EPL Form Guide and certainly deserves its current, hard-earned spot atop the Premier League table. Only the most stubborn Chelsea fans—and fans of other clubs—wouldn’t admit that Rodgers has done an incredible job with this team this season.
One big and often overlooked aspect in Liverpool’s success this season has been goalkeeper Simon Mignolet, who, though not among the best in England’s top flight, has been effective enough as he has had to be on a prolific team that scores goals in its sleep.
But a huge reality that only the best clubs in sports enjoy is home-field domination and the Reds have truly restored that order at Anfield Road this season and head into this match with a 15-1-1 mark at home and a gaudy plus-36 goal differential (51-15). The fun is back. And this is a really fun team to watch—unless you’re playing against them.
From a mental standpoint here, it just seems the visiting Blues can’t help but be a bit fatigued and a bit frazzled heading in, with all of the travel and injuries and such. And unless now offensively challenged Chelsea can score first and put a little mute on the salivating Anfield crowd, this could be a very painful 90-minute display for its fans—watching Liverpool pretty much win the EPL live in front of them may leave a mark for some.
The last 10 meetings between these two teams in all competitions have seen a 4-2-4 split with the Reds holding a slim 14-13 scoring edge. So, a totally meaningless trend. When these two played in West London back in December, Chelsea won 2-1; this fixture last season at Liverpool ended in a 2-2 draw.
Blues manager Mourinho has been extremely successful in his last eight Premier League meetings against the Reds (6-1-1), but that was then and this is now, and this Liverpool team is like a group of hungry piranhas in the middle of a feeding frenzy in the Amazon River waiting for the poor cow to die so they can consume its beefy goodness. And they are hungry.
(Insert Suarez bite joke here.)
Handicapping a game like this is no fun when you’re a Chelsea fan, and it would be somewhat irresponsible to publish one’s hopes—a Blues win—when the whole point of these preview pieces for Bleacher Report is to examine all of the club’s games from a betting perspective.
With pretty much everything—a long winning streak, momentum, health, the league’s two leading scorers, Chelsea’s health, the home-field advantage—going its way here, the Reds should find a way to earn the necessary three points as Rodgers and Liverpool are still very aware and motivated by the fact that third-placed Manchester City (23-5-6, 74 points) still has a game in hand on them.
And the way this team has been scoring lately, scoring three goals against a limping Blues squad here wouldn’t surprise anyone. Backing the Over 2½ if you can find it is also advised as some sportsbooks have posted a 3, and Liverpool are 28-7 overall and 15-3 at home going over the posted total. Those are pretty strong statistics for the savvy bettor.
No matter what happens and no matter which team or league you’re a fan of, this game is pretty much must-watch TV, and it wouldn’t surprise me if maybe Old Man Hilario or Young Boy Sterling ends up stealing the show with a performance for the ages.
But the probable dream/nightmare scenario for Liverpool/Chelsea fans here is Sturridge going off against his old team and scoring the goal or goals that pretty much seal up the home team’s chances of getting its first league championship in 24 years. Scenes.
Don’t miss it.
Prediction: Liverpool 3 Chelsea 1
Bets: Liverpool -165, Over 2½ -170
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