Liverpool 2.15, the draw 3.55, Chelsea 3.25
Memories of the FA Cup final will still be fresh in the minds of the players as Chelsea head to Anfield for their second match against Liverpool in four days. Chelsea still have it all to play for as they continue to chase the fourth place finish that will get them into next year’s Champions League. Liverpool are only playing for consolation prizes now, hoping to avenge their cup final defeat and try to give the fans some hope at the end of the season. This is easier said than done. Liverpool’s home form has been woeful this season and they’ve only managed to notch up five home wins, their worst since 1949.
Raul Meireles and Jon Obi Mikel picked up injuries in the FA Cup final and will be rested. Gary Cahill and David Luiz are also still not fit enough to make the team. Liverpool have no injuries from Saturday’s game, but may want to rest a few players after the Wembley exploits.
Chelsea still have a lot to play for and the mood in the dressing room will still be buzzing after their FA Cup victory. That may be the crucial factor in getting past their poor away form this season. The Londoners have struggled on the road winning only one of their last 8 away trips, but they need to win to try and secure the fourth place spot that will get them into next year’s Champions League and take the pressure off in the upcoming final against Bayern Munich.
Liverpool have only won once at Anfield in 2012 and are effectively just playing for pride now. They’ve lost their last two games to Fulham and Chelsea.
Main man: Liverpool
Strange as it may sound, Andy Carroll could be Liverpool’s saviour tonight. He looked threatening when he came on in the final, nabbing a goal and giving Chelsea defenders a headache. He’s 7.50 to score and 8.00 to score with his head. He will still have a point to prove to the fans and the owners as well and will want to leave a good impression before the season closes.
Main man: Chelsea
Juan Mata bamboozled Jay Spearing in the cup final and will be the danger man again tonight. He dragged the Liverpool midfielder all over the place and still managed to find space and play some killer balls, including the one that sent Ramires away for the first goal. With Charlie Adam and Lucas Leiva out for the rest of the season, Spearing is likely to start again and will have to put in the performance of his life if he is to keep Mata quiet.
Recent head to head
It was on Saturday, at Wembley. You may have seen it! Chelsea won 2-1. With Chelsea having failed to score against Liverpool in five of their last eight meetings and Liverpool having now lost their last two games, this is a tough call. Meanwhile, the atmosphere will be flat; many Liverpool fans just wish the season will end.
For Liverpool, Luis Suarez is favourite to score first at 7.00, but Andy Carroll has scored three in his last five outings and caused Chelsea problems aplenty off the bench in the FA Cup final. He’s priced at 7.50.
Didier Drogba is the favourite to get Chelsea of the mark at 7.00, with Fernando Torres second at 7.50. Torres has found some goal-scoring form recently, but didn’t make an appearance in the final.
Liverpool didn’t have much to offer in the FA Cup final until Andy Carroll’s impact in the last 30 minutes. Chelsea didn’t exactly set the world alight either, but they didn’t need to and played quite a controlled game. They do need to win here, however, to enhance their Champions League aspirations for next year, and I think they will step up the tempo and try to startle a Liverpool side who have been sloppy at Anfield this year, with only one victory in 2012. I’d take the away win on Chelsea at 3.25.