Liverpool entertain leaders Chelsea hoping to end a miserable January with a much-needed win (6/4) as they try to reignite the title race.
The Reds have won just once so far in 2017 – a 1-0 FA Cup third round replay success over League Two Plymouth – and have been dumped out of both domestic cups in the past week.
Jurgen Klopp’s side are threatened with a fourth-straight Anfield defeat when title favourites Chelsea visit, following a 3-2 loss to Swansea in the league and those Cup beatings against Southampton in the EFL Cup semi and, dismally, against Wolves in the FA Cup on Saturday.
Another reverse would break an unwanted 94-year record dating back to 1923 but Chelsea will be in no mood to go easy on the out-of-confidence Merseysiders.
Klopp was rightly criticised for fielding a weakened side against Wolves as his risky selection backfired badly against the Championship outfit.
The German made the decision to rotate with one eye on this huge home game and the rested regulars – Simon Mignolet, James Milner, Dejan Lovren, Joel Matip, Jordan Henderson and Adam Lallana – should all be back to take on the Blues.
However, it is the potential return of another player, Sadio Mane, that is the most welcome news for the Reds before the game.
The Senegal forward is back in England after his country slipped out of the African Nations Cup over the weekend and Klopp says he will assess the former Southampton star before deciding whether to include him against the leaders.
Liverpool have certainly missed his pace and penetration in the final third and, even if he only makes the bench, Mane (13/5 to score first or last) should make a positive impact.
In recent weeks, Klopp’s side have been far too slow and predictable in possession, while maintaining a real air of fragility at the back and a buoyant Chelsea will hope to further expose them to strengthen their grip on the title race.
Antonio Conte’s side (39/20 to win) sit 10 points clear of Tuesday’s opponents, and eight ahead of second-placed Arsenal.
The Blues have won nine of their last 10 games in the league and, with star duo Eden Hazard (53/20 to score anytime) and Diego Costa (17/10 to score anytime) on the bench, a much-changed side had far too much for Brentford in the FA Cup on Saturday.
Conte will, of course, revert to his strongest line-up for this game, with Thibaut Courtois returning in goal and David Luiz and Gary Cahill also back in defence.
Chelsea have looked rock-solid throughout the campaign and know a win at Anfield will further underline their title-winning credentials while simultaneously more than likely end Liverpool’s quickly-fading hopes in the process.
However, Liverpool need a reaction and must end their slump soon. The Reds edged a tight clash at Stamford Bridge 2-1 earlier in the season and it’s expected to be close again with a draw, priced at 9/4, attractive.
A point would be a decent outcome for the visitors considering their position in the table and Conte can deploy tactics to frustrate. A correct score bet on 1-1, on offer at 11/2, or 2-2, at 14/1, could be rewarded.
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