The Big Match Tactical View: Chelsea v Liverpool

Daniel Sturridge may start from the bench at Stamford Bridge
Daniel Sturridge may start from the bench at Stamford Bridge
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Friday Night Football sees Liverpool taking the trip down to London to face Chelsea. Michael Cox looks at the tactics, while Alan Thompson picks out some promising bets...

"Liverpool have great dynamism in the final third. Klopp must decide who out of Coutinho, Sadio Mane, Daniel Sturridge and Roberto Firmino to omit - Coutinho was left out last weekend in the 4-1 win over Leicester, but Klopp tends to like him for big games."

Friday night's game at Stamford Bridge should be a fascinating tactical battle between two of the world's most exciting managers. The Italian discipline of Antonio Conte meets Jurgen Klopp's German gegenpressing system - and the midfield battle should be particularly fascinating.

Chelsea are using a very structured midfield under Conte, which features N'Golo Kante sitting deep and screening the defence, with Nemanja Matic and Oscar largely holding their positions either side, creating a solid three-man midfield that opponents find it very difficult to play through.

Liverpool, meanwhile, are using an entirely different style of football. Klopp wants quick counter-pressing whenever Liverpool lose possession, which inevitably means less of a defined structure, and people swarming around opponents located close to the ball. It should be a fascinating contrast.

Conte is without captain John Terry, which looks set to ensure David Luiz will make his second debut for Chelsea alongside Gary Cahill at the back. The Brazilian knows all about the Premier League, of course, but playing in Conte's team will be a new experience and he might need time to adjust. His defensive errors were no less obvious during his spell with PSG, and against a quick, dynamic Liverpool front three, is probably Chelsea's weak link here.

Otherwise, it's a familiar starting XI. There's unlikely to be a place for Cesc Fabregas, who doesn't fit into any particular role in Conte's side and will presumably be used as a supersub once again.

Eden Hazard is back on fine form and will cut inside dangerously from the left flank. Nathaniel Clyne will barely be able to get forward, and must concentrate on defence and coping against Hazard's incredible acceleration. On the other flank, Willian will shuttle forward in narrower positions. James Milner, clearly not a natural left-back, may need to take up central positions and trust others to cope with Branislav Ivanovic's sporadic overlapping.

Diego Costa is Chelsea's chief goal threat, however. The striker has been even more lively than usual this season, winding up opponents more than ever while also contributing a succession of important goals. Against Dejan Lovren and Joel Matip, not yet a solid centre-back partnership, he'll be confident of adding to his goal return - especially as Liverpool are yet to keep a clean sheet this season.

Liverpool, meanwhile, will find it difficult to play through Chelsea's midfield and might discover they lacked the necessary guile to create chances after long spells of possession. Adam Lallana has started the season well, but Chelsea should be capable of shutting him down because they're so organised in central positions.

But Liverpool have great dynamism in the final third. Klopp must decide who out of Coutinho, Sadio Mane, Daniel Sturridge and Roberto Firmino to omit - Coutinho was left out last weekend in the 4-1 win over Leicester, but Klopp tends to like him for big games.

It feels more like Sturridge will be left on the bench, with Coutinho coming into the side on the left, Firmino playing upfront, and Mane breaking forward from the right. That arguably offers the most balance from Liverpool's front trio, and Klopp will hope Luiz is dragged forward to shut down his compatriot Firmino when he takes up deep positions, allowing Mane to sprint in behind.

Chelsea are likely to dominate possession, but Liverpool's attackers should be capable of forcing - and then exploiting - a mistake in their backline. Therefore, both sides to score at 1.654/6 seems a decent bet.

The Betfair Trader's View: Alan Thompson

Jurgen Klopp’s men face Chelsea for their third London away day this season, and they are unbeaten so far with a win at Arsenal (4-3) and a draw at Tottenham (1-1). They won’t fear the trip to the Stamford Bridge. Chelsea have won both home games so far, beating Burnley (3-0) and an out-of-sorts West Ham (2-1) but this is Antonio Conte’s first real test of the season.

Both sides have started the season well, Chelsea may feel a little frustrated by the result at Swansea but they are still unbeaten and the Reds will arrive in London in excellent spirits - considering their fixture list they have over achieved, and the 4-1 beating of Leicester last week is an excellent confidence builder.

Despite Chelsea just failing to score in one of the last seven meetings between the sides at the Bridge, the Blues have only managed to win two of those games, with both sides scoring in the last five meetings. Liverpool haven’t kept a clean sheet yet this season and Chelsea only one so, as Michael says, there is a good chance both teams to score could pay off again at but at around 1.654/6 I will leave that for others.

While both sides will think they can win this I am not sure a draw would be a major disappointment for either camp. The Draw in the match odds market is priced short enough at 3.55 but I would rather enhance that by taking on 0-0 and a higher scoring draws by dutch-backing 1-1 @ 7.87/1 and 2-2 @ 14.013/1 giving approximate odds of 5.04/1.

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