Football, bloody football. Just when you think you know the beautiful game and its unique machinations, a result will happen that surely nobody could see coming.
Leicester were 8/1 with the bookmakers to beat Liverpool on Tuesday evening, with the Foxes’ defensive crisis and lack of recovery time – compared to the week off enjoyed by a strong Reds side – just two of the factors contributing to such a lofty price.
The Midland outfit had also been conceding goals galore too, including at least two in six of their seven prior outings, and so surely this was going to be a straightforward Liverpool win. Right?
Wrong. Despite almost one way traffic towards the Leicester goal, Salah – who missed a penalty, Jota, Mane and co could not find a way past the ramshackle Foxes defence, and then in the 59th minute Liverpool paid the ultimate price.
Joel Matip didn’t get close enough to Ademola Lookman, and the winger found a yard of space to get his shot away and fire Leicester into the lead.
And it could have all been so different. Kasper Schmeichel saved Salah’s spot kick expertly, and Mane missed a couple of gilt-edged chances as the Reds looked well-poised to cash in on their pre-game favouritism.
Jota and Virgil van Dijk also missed decent chances as Liverpool pressed for a late equaliser, but it was not to be – once more, football showed its ability to surprise and delight in equal measure as Leicester pulled off the most surprising upset victory imaginable.
“So often these boys give me a chance to say ‘wow, what a game,’ Klopp mused afterwards. “Tonight it’s ‘wow’, but in completely the other way. It didn’t look good.”
A chance for almost immediate redemption will come on Sunday, and in some style too. Liverpool will ring in 2022 with a trip to London to take on Chelsea.
Liverpool Team News
Bemoaning the hectic festive fixture list, Klopp will once again have to find the right combination of players for the huge game at Stamford Bridge.
We know Andy Robertson will definitely be out – he will be serving the third of his three-match suspension. Kostas Tsimikas will likely deputise.
Joel Matip played the full 90 minutes against Leicester, and now Klopp must decide whether he is risked against the Blues – the Cameroon defender doesn’t often play that many games in quick succession. But the importance of the tie suggests he will start.
The manager will want to restore his favoured midfield trio together too – Fabinho, Jordan Henderson and Thiago. Henderson played 70 minutes against the Foxes, while Thiago has complained of muscle aches, but both will likely be pressed into action.
In attack, this will be the last game of Salah and Mane before they depart for AFCON, and so they will be asked to give it their all one last time.
After going off the boil since the start of November, Chelsea returned to winning ways last time out against Aston Villa.
A Premier League formline of W4 D4 L1 is hardly befitting a side expected to challenge for the title, although it does show how tough the Blues are to beat under Thomas Tuchel.
They are still scoring freely – they’ve only failed to find the net twice in league action all term, but their defensive solidity has gone AWOL: they’ve conceded at least once in seven of their last ten games. That is an area that Liverpool will have to try and exploit.
Both Thiago Silva and N’Golo Kante are thought to be struggling with injury, and that would provide a double boost for the Reds if that duo misses out.
Chelsea vs Liverpool Betting Tips
Our predictions for a Liverpool goal-fest in the Midlands on Tuesday were well wide of the mark.
We are expecting this to be a cagier affair, given the enormity of the game in the quest for catching Manchester City at the top of the table. Dropped points here could prove to be a disaster.
Tuchel is unbeaten against Klopp in English football, and he also seems to have a tactical hex over Pep Guardiola too – proving his ability as a ‘big game’ manager. That might just give Chelsea something of an edge, as does extra recovery time (they last played on Boxing Day) and being on home soil.
As such, we were surprised to the Blues available as long as 15/8 – perhaps that’s to do with their potential absentees. That said, we’re able to back Liverpool at 20/23 with a scratch +0.00 Asian handicap start – our stake will be refunded if this contest ends in a draw. That seems more than fair.
We’re not anticipating a goal glut either – famous last words, so we’ll be taking the Under 2.5 Goals line at 21/20 too.