Chelsea v Liverpool: Rampant Reds can clinch EFL Cup success

The first piece of major domestic silverware is on offer on Sunday as Chelsea and Liverpool meet for the EFL Cup final at Wembley. Mark O'Haire shares his favourite fancy...

Chelsea overcome Lille

Chelsea warmed up for Wembley with a comfortable 2-0 Champions League victory over Lille in their last-16 tie at Stamford Bridge on Tuesday. Kai Havertz headed home Hakim Ziyech's corner after eight minutes and Christian Pulisic was the beneficiary of a superb run and pass from N'Golo Kante in the 63rd minute to secure Blues' crucial first-leg advantage.

Out-of-sorts Romelu Lukaku was only a substitute, with Havertz the main attacking threat - and the German almost broke the deadlock twice before his early strike. Meanwhile, the midweek clean sheet means the capital club have now recorded 39 shutouts since Thomas Tuchel took charge, at least nine more than any other side within Europe's top five leagues.

The only negatives on a good night for Chelsea and boss Tuchel were injuries to Ziyech and midfielder Mateo Kovacic. Both were withdrawn in the second-half and are now rated doubtful for Sunday's cup final clash, potentially joining flying wing-backs Reece James and Ben Chilwell on the sidelines, although Mason Mount is now back in the squad.

Liverpool run riot

Rampant Liverpool closed the gap on Premier League leaders Manchester City to just three points after cruising to a sixth straight league success at Leeds' expense at Anfield in midweek. Jurgen Klopp's side produced an utterly dominant display on Wednesday night, including three goals in 20 first-half minutes, to run out 6-0 victors on Merseyside.

Two of those six goals came from penalties by Mohamed Salah, who also set up defender Joel Matip for his first goal since December 2020. Sadio Mane added two late goals and Virgil van Dijk notched with an added-time header to complete the rout. The Reds therefore remain right in the hunt for four trophies after a ninth straight win in all competitions.

Liverpool's only injury issues surround Diogo Jota and Roberto Firmino. The former is considered a major doubt but Klopp remains hopeful he'll have the Portuguese in the squad for Sunday, whilst the latter is a certain absentee. Should neither be fit enough to feature, January signing Luis Diaz will start in the Reds' front three alongside Salah and Mane.

Reds fair favourites at Wembley

Chelsea and Liverpool have crossed swords 11 times since the beginning of 2018/19 with the Reds enjoying slight supremacy (W4-D4-L3). Looking at the head-to-head records since Jurgen Klopp arrived in Merseyside, Liverpool have posted an impressive W6-D6-L2 over the Blues, although Thomas Tuchel is yet to lose to the Reds in three meetings (W1-D2-L0).

Chelsea 3.50 have suffered only two defeats across all competitions since September yet the Blues haven't completely convinced through the winter. Thomas Tuchel's team aren't clicking in the final-third, although defensive resilience remains a key asset for the West Londoners who are allowing fewer than goals in all bar one of their last 17 outings.

Liverpool 2.34 are justified pre-match favourites having been beaten just twice all season, and the Reds arrive at Wembley on the back of nine straight wins. The Merseysiders have scored at least three goals in five of those fixtures, conceding just three times with Jurgen Klopp's team looking every inch the major title challengers at home and abroad.

Asian Handicap value

Chelsea's impressive rearguard efforts, coupled with their own final-third flaws, has led to nine consecutive Under 2.5 Goals winners. It's no surprise to see a repeat chalked up at just 1.71 for the EFL Cup final considering the magnitude of the match, with three of the four head-to-head showdowns since the start of last season seeing Under 2.5 Goals land.

Rather than invest in a low-scoring contest at cramped odds, I'm more comfortable taking Liverpool 0 & -0.5 in the Asian Handicap at 1.98. The wager effectively means, we're supporting the Reds to win at around evens in 90 minutes but should the match end all-square, we'll only lose half of our stake with the second half returned as a push.

Liverpool arrive in fantastic form, and the Reds went off around 2.70 at Stamford Bridge in January's meeting when they were without several key players in goal, defence and midfield. With a far stronger squad available on Sunday, Jurgen Klopp's charges have understandably seen plenty of market interest this week.

But rather than back the Reds in the Match Odds, I'll respect the draw and keep the 90-minute stalemate onside.

0 nhận xét Blogger 0 Facebook

Post a Comment