Liverpool vs Chelsea Odds, Pick: Market Too Low On Blues
Visionhaus/Getty Images. Pictured: Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang
- Liverpool host Chelsea on Saturday morning in a matchup of two sides struggling to live up to their usual expectations.
- Despite injuries and general struggles, only one side has shown signs that a turnaround is imminent.
- Continue reading for a full breakdown of this matchup, including how to bet it.
Liverpool vs. Chelsea Odds
|Over/Under||2.5 (-140 / +116)|
|Both Teams to Score (Yes/No)||(-164 / +128)|
|Odds via FanDuel. Get the latest soccer odds here.|
In almost any Premier League season, Liverpool vs. Chelsea would be one of the most highly anticipated fixtures of the year. Given the struggles of both clubs at the moment, the Blues and the Reds clash on Merseyside on Saturday is more of a mid-table struggle than a Champions League places or title decider.
What a difference a year makes. These two sides met last January in London with Chelsea chasing close behind both Liverpool and Manchester City for the title. Their 2-2 draw was one of the highest quality matches of the entire campaign.
Chelsea have a new manager now under Graham Potter, but the performances have gotten worse on aggregate. Liverpool still have Jurgen Klopp, but the injuries are mounting for his club and the defense has fallen off of a cliff in underlying numbers and goals conceded.
The Reds are expected to have Darwin Nunez back in the lineup and that's a major boost for this attack that struggled mightily in the last two matches. Despite this, Liverpool remains overvalued on Saturday.
Liverpool have not held a Premier League opponent under 1.0 xG since Aug. 31, when Newcastle managed 0.7 xG in a match at Anfield. The defense will once again be without Virgil van Dijk due to injury and the Reds are likely to start the three-man midfield of Harvey Elliott, Fabinho and Thiago.
Between Fabinho's decreased range as a defensive midfielder and Elliott's profile as more of an attacking presence than an all-around midfielder, there's a real lack of pressing and ball winning success.
The Reds are still allowing the lowest pass completion rate against them and they can force plenty of high turnovers. But even that number has dropped off considerably. Liverpool is fourth in high turnovers created, and that's barely ahead of Chelsea in sixth.
The cracks have manifested themselves in other ways. Last season, Liverpool were second in passes allowed into their own penalty area. Even despite them taking a ton of chances to press the ball out of possession, you couldn't really create more than one or two big moments each match.
The defense has slipped all the way to seventh in passes allowed into the penalty area. The set piece defense is even worse, and they don't stop crosses from coming into the penalty area. Liverpool's defense has no real improvement coming, they're just going to have to outscore everyone.
Cody Gakpo does almost no defensive work, Salah's pressing is down and that's leaving this midfield more exposed than previous seasons. Sadio Mané and Roberto Firmino pressed at an elite clip from the front and Liverpool miss those contributions.
Chelsea don't seem to have much of a coherent plan when it comes to transfers, but the Blues have shown modest signs of improvement on the pitch in the last two matches. They lost to Fulham after a red card to Joao Felix, but the first hour was one of the most encouraging they've had under Potter. Potter hasn't been able to get nearly enough shots from this group of makeshift attackers because of injuries and inconsistent midfield play.
Against Fulham and Crystal Palace, the underlying performances showed true signs of improvement. The Blues produced 3.7 xG in those two matches and conceded 1.0 or less in both. They completed 15 passes into the penalty area against Palace on Sunday, which is the most they've had in the league since early October. Chelsea totaled 35 shots in the two games, which is more than any two game span all year.
The Blues season-high 20 shots in the loss to Fulham away from home is a sign that maybe Potter is starting to sort out their issues in ball progression and shot production. The Blues are fourth in attacking penalty touches and seventh in passes into the area, so it's only a matter of time before the attack starts to tick up again.
Liverpool vs. Chelsea Pick
Both Liverpool and Chelsea have had disappointing first halves of the season, but only one of these two teams looks like it is anywhere near solving its problems — Chelsea. I think we’ve already reached the bottom of the market and the decline of Chelsea and the upswing and positive regression is nearing.
Meanwhile, Liverpool continue to trend in the opposite direction as the injuries mount. The Reds looked terrible in defensive transition each of the last two matches against Brentford and Brighton. They followed it up with an away trip to Wolves that saw them lose the expected goals 1.4-0.2. The return of Nunez won't solve the fact the midfield is healthy and still is unable to effectively press.
Even with their injuries, Chelsea’s midfield is a much better disruptor and their defense is much more reliable given the Reds struggles amid van Dijk’s absence. We’ve found the bottom of the market on Chelsea, but I’m not convinced the market has bottomed out on the Reds here.
Even though Chelsea has taken money in the last week, I’d bet them +0.5 at -110 or better.
Pick: Chelsea +0.5 (-100)