Chelsea host Liverpool in the first big top-of-the-table clash of the new Premier League season at Stamford Bridge on Sunday (11:30am ET).
Chelsea finished fourth last season, a full 33 points behind champions Liverpool. They will expect to eat into that gap this time following an off-season of big spending that has so far seen them bring in five new faces for a combined outlay of just over £200 million.
Ben Chilwell, Hakim Ziyech, Kai Havertz and Timo Werner have all arrived for fees ranging from £36 million up to £72 million in the case of Havertz. The experienced Paris Saint-Germain defender Thiago Silva has also come in on a free transfer. Rennes goalkeeper Edouard Mendy will soon join them and even one or two more might yet do so.
Even as it is, Frank Lampard now has a squad capable of at least finishing third. The gap to Liverpool and Manchester City is probably too much to make up in a single season, but if Lampard can fit all of his shiny new toys into a coherent system, they should expect to be best of the rest.
There were a few teething troubles in Chelsea’s opening day victory away to Brighton. They lined up in the 4-2-2-2 formation that seems the most viable way of incorporating all the new attacking elements into the starting XI. Of the new arrivals, only Havertz and Werner made the pitch, while Ruben Loftus Cheek was employed as a slightly awkward second striker alongside the latter.
Lampard’s side took the lead through an early Jorginho penalty that Werner’s blistering pace had helped win but then struggled to build on that advantage. Last season’s defensive frailties have not vanished overnight and it wasn’t all that surprising when Brighton pulled level early in the second half. A spectacular long-range strike from Reece James and a far scrappier third from Kurt Zouma were still enough to give Chelsea all three points.
That is the most important thing at this stage and was something that Liverpool also achieved in an open and entertaining 4-3 victory over newly-promoted Leeds. Three times they went ahead, through Mohamed Salah, Virgil van Dijk and Salah again, only for their visitors to fire back and level. It wasn’t until the 88th minute that they went ahead definitively, with Salah’s second penalty of the match giving them all three points.
It was a match in which Liverpool often felt a bit more on the ropes than they perhaps really were. Even with the two penalties removed from the equation, they still outshot Leeds by 20 to six with comparable average shot quality for both sides. They had at least another couple of very good chances to score.
There hasn’t been much transfer activity so far at Anfield. Konstantinos Tsimikas has come in to provide backup for Andrew Robertson at left-back, while Dejan Lovren has departed after six years at the club. There might be one or two more incomings, with Thiago of Bayern Munich heavily linked, but it is generally likely to be a very similar squad that takes on the task of successfully defending their title.
Jurgen Klopp’s side began last season with eight consecutive victories and then strung together an incredible 18 more following a 1-1 draw at Manchester United that broke that first streak. It would be unrealistic to expect them to win with such relentless consistency again this season, for a ball not to bounce their way a couple of times or a decision or two not to go in their favor, but they and Man City are still the two clear favourites to lift the trophy.
Chelsea do have enough talent potentially to cause Liverpool some problems. With doubts over both the fitness status of some of the new arrivals and the degree to which last season’s defensive issues have been righted, it would take a brave bettor to back them with the major American sports gambling sites to take all three points on Sunday. Liverpool are frighteningly efficient, secure in their system and have the necessary firepower to see themselves to victory. So our Chelsea vs. Liverpool predictions and betting picks verdict is:
- Bet on Liverpool to win on the moneyline @ clearly the best odds of +126 with BetOnline.