This weekend sees arguably the most important Premier League clash of the season at Anfield, where Liverpool will welcome second-placed Chelsea in what many people view as the critical fixture in deciding the destination of the Premier League title.
Victory for visitors Chelsea and that will allow both Chelsea and Manchester City a real chance of pipping Liverpool to their first league title in 25 years. A victory for the Reds would not only rule Chelsea out of the title race, but make it exceedingly difficult for Manchester City to overhaul them at the top of the table.
The 2013/14 Barclays Premier League title race – remaining fixtures
Currently, Liverpool sit atop of the league table having played 35 games and accruing 80 points. Chelsea have also played 35 games but have 75 points.
Manchester City however have played two games less on 33, but have accrued 71 points.
If City win their two games in hand, the first of which against West Brom will likely have been played by the time you read this, they will move onto 77 points three behind Liverpool.
However, there are tough fixtures in store for all three title contenders:
- Liverpool – Chelsea (home), Crystal Palace (away), Newcastle United (home)
- Chelsea – Liverpool (away), Norwich City (home), Cardiff City (away)
- Manchester City – West Brom (home), Crystal Palace (away), Everton (away), Aston Villa (home), West Ham United (home)
In addition, Chelsea have their two-legged European Champions League Semi Final, against Atletico Madrid, played either side of their huge clash with Liverpool.
Sunday’s clash between Liverpool and Chelsea at Anfield may not decide the destination of the title, but a win for Chelsea will mean all three teams will be back in with a chance of lifting the title and it could be a mortal blow to Liverpool’s title hopes.
A win for Liverpool would rule Chelsea out of winning the title and mean the Anfield team need just four points from their final two games to be crowned Champions, even if Manchester City win all their remaining games.
It’s a huge game and one which will certainly have the attention of the world focused on Anfield on Sunday.
Chelsea team news
With this game coming in between a crucial Champions League Semi Final, it will be interesting to see how Jose Mourinho balances his squad ahead of the game. Chelsea’s shock 2-1 defeat at home to Sunderland at the weekend was a hammer blow to their title hopes and perhaps Mourinho already reckons the League is already beyond them.
Much will depend on whether Eden Hazard is fit for the game. The Belgian has been Chelsea’s star player this season and he has been sorely missed in recent weeks. Even if he is fit, will Mourinho risk him playing in three huge games in eight days?
The Chelsea boss has also been slating his strike force of late and it will be interesting to see who out of Demba Ba, Fernando Torres or Samuel Eto’o gets the nod at Anfield.
The key battle will be in midfield where Chelsea will be reliant on the pace and power of Willian and Ramires to counter Liverpool’s threat.
It will be an interesting clash between the league’s best defence (Chelsea) and the best attack (Liverpool) and whoever comes out on top of this battle, may well decide the destination of the league title.
Liverpool team news
Much will hinge on Brendan Rogers’ approach to this game and key to that could be the fitness of striker Daniel Sturridge. A hamstring strain kept him out of the 3-2 win at Norwich at the weekend, but the signs are good that he could be back for the game against his former club.
Raheem Sterling and Luis Suarez both featured strongly in that game and both will be key to Liverpool’s chances of success here.
The Red’s midfield will be weakened by the omission of Jordan Henderson through suspension. Lucas looked well off the pace against Norwich and will need to buck his performance levels up against the high-energy players in Chelsea’s midfield.
Liverpool won’t be able to call on the on-loan Victor Moses (A Chelsea player) so there may also be a place up for grabs on the bench for this crucial clash.
The Reds lost 2-1 at Stamford Bridge earlier in the season, a result which saw them drop to fifth in the table and it was their last defeat of the campaign before embarking on a 16 game unbeaten run (14 wins and 2 draws).
The best bets?
If you are looking for a wager on this game then without doubt, the best bet in my view is the Over/Under 2.5 Goals market. 29 of Liverpool’s 35 games this season in the league have seen over 2.5 goals scored and while Chelsea tend to tighten up against the top sides (there’s only been four goals scored in the five away games against the teams from 3rd to 7th) I fancy there will be goals again at Anfield on Sunday.
The bookmakers have there to be Over 2.5 Goals at 1.57, which considering Liverpool matches have been trading at around 1.3 in recent weeks, looks a decent value bet.
There are two other bets here I would consider which I feel offer decent value and which one appeals to you depends on whether you believe Chelsea or Liverpool will eventually win the game.
If you think Chelsea can win the game, then I would suggest that if they do so, it will be on the back of a strong defensive performance and thanks to a fine counter-attacking display. Jose Mourinho’s former Chelsea team did this to perfection at Anfield several years ago, racking up a 4-1 win on their way to the League Title.
If you fancy Chelsea to win, then the 12/1 available on a 2-1 victory looks good value.
Alternatively, if you fancy Liverpool to take the win then they have done so of late on the back of a storming start to games. As such, a nice Half Time/Full Time double may be of interest here. Liverpool to be leading 2-0 at half time and then to win the game 3-1 is currently a 50/1 shot, which is a great outside bet to consider.
Whatever your choice for the game, Sunday’s huge clash will go a long way towards deciding the eventual destiny of the Barclays Premier League title and with Manchester City taking on Crystal Palace immediately after the game, by Sunday night, we may be a lot closer to knowing who the next Barclay’s Premier League winners will be.
Or, we may not – that’s the beauty of this delicately poised game.
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