It’s not often neutral fans are treated to what will transpire at Stamford Bridge on New Year’s weekend this season.
Chelsea welcomes Liverpool to London for what essentially amounts to a Premier League title elimination contest, as neither team can afford to drop any more points, with the two sitting 11 and 12 points behind leaders Manchester City, respectively. And Man City doesn’t look to be letting up with its 11th straight victory against Arsenal.
Although both squads might have significant player availability concerns due to COVID-19 and injury, there is every reason this game should live up to a heavyweight bout. First of all, a draw hurts both teams, so they can be expected to throw everything they have at the game to collect all three points.
Visiting Liverpool (3rd place, 41 pts) has a game in hand, and with star players like Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah set to depart for the Africa Cup of Nations following Sunday’s game, any dropped points would leave the Reds in a difficult position with regards to the title race.
Motivation also won’t be lacking for Chelsea (2nd place, 42 pts), which is playing at home and will need a result to set up a meaningful head-to-head with Man City on January 15. But Romelu Lukaku’s public criticism of manager Thomas Tuchel’s tactics has led to Tuchel dropping him from the squad, which will clearly hurt Chelsea’s chances.
🚨 Romelu Lukaku is not in Chelsea squad for visit of Liverpool. 28yo striker at centre of controversy in recent days after release of unauthorised interview in Italy. #CFC will now be without £97.5m summer signing for huge #LFC game @TheAthleticUK #CHELIV https://t.co/SSrl7sAK4H
— David Ornstein (@David_Ornstein) January 2, 2022
How to watch Chelsea vs. Liverpool
- Date: Sunday, Jan. 2
- Time: 11:30 a.m. ET
- TV channel: USA Network
- Spanish-language TV: Telemundo
- Streaming: fuboTV, NBCSports.com (authenticated users)
The Sunday match between Chelsea and Liverpool from Stamford Bridge will be broadcast on USA Network (English) and Telemundo (Spanish) in the USA.
Chelsea vs. Liverpool projected lineups
The Lukaku absence will hit Chelsea hard since it’s already struggling with significant injury problems. The Blues lost another two important players during the last match against Brighton as Reece James and Andreas Christensen are now shelved, with the former out for some time due to a significant hamstring injury.
They are added to the losses of Ben Chilwell (ACL) and Thiago Silva (hamstring), while Ruben Loftus-Cheek is also unlikely to be fit for the match. Jorginho is struggling as well, but he should be included anyways, with N’Golo Kante and Mateo Kovacic also both available. Kovacic started the Brighton match after a long injury layoff but didn’t look to have full-match fitness.
Edouard Mendy is in his final match for Chelsea before departing for the Africa Cup of Nations and leaving Kepa Arrizabalaga as the first-choice goalkeeper for a month. But Hakim Ziyech is available throughout the next month as he was left off Morocco’s squad. Kai Havertz is back from his bout with COVID-19, meaning Timo Werner is likely not far behind, although it’s unclear what level of fitness either is ready for at this point.
Chelsea projected starting lineup (3-4-3): Mendy (GK) — Chalobah, Rudiger, Azpilicueta — Alonso, Kante, Jorginho, Pulisic — Hudson-Odoi, Mount, Lukaku.
Following the loss to Leicester City, Liverpool’s biggest issues are less concerning injury and more with COVID-19, as manager Jurgen Klopp joins a group of three players and other staff members who have tested positive. He will miss the match, and although he did not name who the players were, he said, “It will be pretty clear [on matchday] who is affected or infected,” suggesting those testing positive are key players.
Thiago is again struggling with a groin problem, with his first year at Anfield marred by constant injuries. Left back Andy Robertson is still out, the final of his three-match ban for picking up a straight red. Takumi Minamino is questionable due to muscle soreness, having missed out against Leicester City. Divock Origi is sidelined with a knee problem.
Without knowing who is down with COVID-19, predicting the starting Liverpool lineup is next to impossible. So here’s what it should look like minus those unknowns.
Liverpool projected starting lineup (4-3-3): Alisson (GK) — Tsimikas, Van Dijk, Matip, Alexander-Arnold — Henderson, Fabinho, Oxlade-Chamberlain — Mane, Jota, Salah.
Chelsea vs. Liverpool betting pick & prediction
Odds courtesy of DraftKings
If ever there was a game to stay away from, it would be this one. With two evenly matched teams likely to go guns blazing for all three points, with COVID-19 uncertainty mixed in, there’s really every reason to pass on betting this game.
If, however, you are so inclined, we are certainly not going to leave you out in the cold.
Liverpool has had the better of Chelsea lately, but it depends on how far back you go. The Reds have won five of the last eight across all competitions, but if you go back to 2012, suddenly Chelsea — dominant while Liverpool was still rebuilding — wins eight of 24 matches, with a whopping nine draws in there as well. If there is one thing that can be garnered from those 24 matchups, it is that these teams unsurprisingly play each other close: 18 of the 24 finished with a one-goal margin or a draw. That is likely to be the case again.
It’s incredibly hard to judge the availability of either side, not knowing which Liverpool players tested positive or which Chelsea players will return from positive tests. But we know that Klopp won’t be there and his record against Chelsea of late has been fantastic, winning five of the last seven, and winning four times at Stamford Bridge in seven attempts.
While it’s tough to predict which team will win in such an evenly matched contest, what does seem relatively certain is that both teams can score goals. A draw with goals projects to be a likely scenario even though it would ultimately leave both sides frustrated and needing a miracle to get back into the title race.
Pick: Tie with goals game parlay (+285)
Prediction: Chelsea 2, Liverpool 2
- Moneyline: Chelesa +165 / Draw +255 / Liverpool +160
- Spread (Asian Handicap): Chelsea pick’em (-105) / Liverpool pick’em (-110)
- O/U 2.5 total goals: Over -115 / Under +100
- Both teams to score: Yes -155 / No +120