In football, it’s often fine margins that can make all the difference. Yes, we were poor in Naples in midweek as we succumbed to a 0-2 defeat in our Champions League opener, but it was those key moments that ultimately cost us rather than being overwhelmed and outclassed.
Napoli’s opener – the penalty dispatched by Dries Mertens – was one of those decisions that often settle knife-edge continental clashes where neither team is willing to give an inch.
Andy Robertson probably shouldn’t have challenged Jose Callejon as he did, but even so when it takes VAR officials countless minutes to come to the decision that they are going to give the benefit of the doubt to the attacking team, rather than the defender, then the technology will continue to make errors.
“It was very decisive in that moment for sure, but we can’t change it,” Jurgen Klopp said in his post-match press conference afterwards. “As long as human beings make the decisions then there is still potential for [mistakes].”
The second was an error from another all-the-more surprising source. Virgil van Dijk dallied in his own penalty area and that allowed Fernando Llorente to steal in and make sure for the Italians.
In truth we never really got going, and when the team news was announced pre-game and messrs Fabinho, Milner and Henderson all lined up alongside one another in midfield we knew straight from the bat that Klopp was willing to forego dominance and sit in deep.
The counter attack has worked at times for the Reds in the past couple of seasons, but starving the likes of Salah and Mane from the ball is not always going to be a recipe for success.
It’s back to England and back to the grind this week as we travel to the capital to take on Frank Lampard’s exciting young Chelsea side.
Liverpool Team News
Other than any changes Klopp wishes to make, there are four injury absentees for Liverpool.
Alisson continues his rehab from the calf injury that has kept him sidelined for weeks now, but he isn’t yet ready for a first team return.
Naby Keita is getting closer, and the midfielder is expected to return to training next week.
Divock Origi is on the treatment table after picking up a knock against Newcastle. The Belgian could be back for next week’s EFL Cup date with the MK Dons.
As for Nathaniel Clyne, well, he is on the slow road to recovery following his ACL tear. Don’t expect him to feature again until 2020.
There is a blank midweek schedule for the Reds aside from the MK Dons game, and the manager will take that opportunity to rest his players.
As such, expect a strong side at Stamford Bridge, although we’re hoping that a midfield link-man will be selected – Gini Wijnaldum the most likely contender.
Only Liverpool and Manchester City have scored more Premier League goals than Chelsea this season, which reflects how Frank Lampard’s side go about their business.
But then, only Norwich have conceded more than the Blues!
Clearly, Chelsea are playing a expansive game that, occasionally, leaves them open at the back.
Lampard switched to a back-three against Wolves in the 5-2 victory, and he maintained that shape in the 0-1 midweek defeat to Valencia.
That loss to the Spaniards was Chelsea’s first since the opening day of the season, and in the league they have posted a healthy enough W2 D2 L0 since.
Chelsea vs Liverpool Betting Tips
The slight unpredictability about Chelsea has left the bookmakers not all that keen to oppose them, although you can still get even money about a Liverpool victory.
Coming off the back of Champions League defeats, neither side has a psychological advantage but in being able to pick from a full squad, near enough, we have the clear edge.
Chelsea will be without Loftus-Cheek, Emerson, Hudson-Odoi and Rudiger, while Mount and Kante are also expected to miss out.
And let’s not get carried away by the Napoli defeat; it was one bad performance in an ocean of good ones.
This youthful Chelsea side is one in transition and one that is also shorn of key figures at present, and while they boast the in-form Tammy Abraham, they will also miss Kante and Mount if neither passes their fitness test.
For that reason, the evens available about a Liverpool win simply has to be taken, and we’re happy enough to back that in a double with the Over 2.5 Goals line: after all, both of these attacks have their plus points.