Stoke’s Capital One Cup victory in midweek pushed Jose Mourinho even further onto the ropes and unfortunately for Chelsea’s punch-drunk boss, Liverpool are next in town looking to deliver a potential knock-out blow.
Due to some high-profile continental clashes involving Mourinho’s original Chelsea vintage and Rafa Benitez’s Liverpool around a decade ago, there has been little love lost between Blues and Reds ever since.
Much to Mourinho’s delight, he and Chelsea were instrumental in preventing Liverpool from claiming the Premier League title two seasons ago, but there is now real scope for the sweetest of Reds revenge when the sides clash in the top-flight next.
Although only three points separate the sides, a win for Jurgen Klopp’s visitors on Saturday lunchtime, rated at 11/4, would be so perilous for Mourinho as Chelsea could sink to 16th by the end of the weekend.
Here’s five reasons the underdogs can pull it off at Stamford Bridge:
5. Chelsea’s dismal form
It’s an obvious place to start, but there is no hiding for the boys in blue. The champions are wholly unrecognisable from the side which swaggered to the title last season with something approaching ease. Before losing out to the Potters on penalties in the cup, Chelsea had only beaten a hapless Aston Villa side in six games, with a 3-1 home defeat to Southampton the lowlight.
4. Liverpool are up and running under Klopp and will be fresher
Conversely, Liverpool have finally shaken off a serious bout of draw-itis to claim a first win under new manager Klopp. While defeating Bournemouth 1-0 at Anfield is hardly a result to send Chelsea running scared, psychologically, it’s a massive confidence booster for the Reds. Whereas Mourinho went with a full strength lineup at Stoke, Klopp was able to rest many first-choice players so Liverpool should be the more bushy-tailed team.
3. Christian Benteke should be back for Liverpool
Liverpool fans keep seeing glimpses of the talent their £32.5m summer signing brings to the table and noises coming out of Anfield suggest Benteke will be fit for Saturday. Looking for successive Premier League goals for his new side after a howitzer of a header against Southampton, his inclusion could be key to this result. Chelsea are fragile in defence and the Belgian, who has three in seven Liverpool appearances, has a decent hit rate against the Londoners. As an Aston Villa player the striker notched twice in five against them.
2. Klopp v Mourinho
Managers owning better head-to-head records against Mourinho are a rare breed, but Klopp has membership to this exclusive club. In four Champions League tussles with Mourinho’s Real Madrid during the 2012/13 campaign, Klopp’s Borussia Dortmund side emerged victorious twice, lost once and drew at the Bernabeu once.
1. Mid-season managerial switch worked for Reds at the Bridge before
It could be conceived as tenuous but there is some interesting symmetry from a Liverpool perspective. The last time the Merseyside club switched manager mid-season – Kenny Dalglish took over from Roy Hodgson in 2011 – the King followed up his first victory (after four attempts just like Klopp) by taking Liverpool on the road to Stamford Bridge and leaving as 2-0 winners.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
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