Liverpool v Chelsea, Wednesday 14th August 8pm
“You’re getting sacked in the morning” isn’t exactly what you want to hear during your first game as a Premier League manager. Frank Lampard’s managerial debut in the top flight was a chastening one, suffering a 4-0 defeat to a Manchester United side that wasn’t without its own imperfections.
Talk of Lampard’s demise is premature, though, with most Chelsea fans – and presumably, owner Roman Abramovich – prepared for a season of transition amidst a transfer ban, Eden Hazard’s departure and the blooding of some hotly-tipped young players.
The former Derby County boss has the chance to add the first silverware of his nascent managerial career when they come up against Champions League winners Liverpool in Wednesday’s UEFA Super Cup.
Jurgen Klopp’s side began their league season with a routine 4-1 win against Norwich City and go into this clash against the Europa League holders as odds-on favourites at 6/10 to lift the trophy. It will be the first Super Cup lifted by an English side since Liverpool themselves won it in 2005, with Chelsea 17/4 to triumph in Istanbul.
The omens, however, don’t look good for The Blues. Six of the last eight Super Cups have been won by the Champions League holders, with Chelsea themselves one of the outliers in 2012. They also lost the 2013 final on penalties to Bayern Munich, after winning the Europa League the previous season under Rafa Benitez.
Four of the last six finals, though, have taken more than 90 minutes to settle and Liverpool to lift the trophy in extra time looks enticing at 17/2, while Chelsea to prevail in extra time is 16/1. The Reds to win in a penalty shoot-out is around 11/1, with their opponents at 12/1.
Their four meetings in the 2000s in the Champions League were famously stodgy affairs, with three of them ending scoreless. It’s doubtful this one will, though, yet recent encounters haven’t exactly been goalfests either. Only one of their last fifteen meetings have produced more than three goals, with 34 goals shared between them in these fixtures stretching back to late 2013. Liverpool to win in normal time and Under 2.5 Goals looks attractive to us at 10/3, while a 2-0 win for Liverpool comes in at 7/1 with Ladbrokes.
Alisson will be a loss for Klopp’s side but it’s hard to see where the goals will come from in this Chelsea team, shorn of Hazard. Liverpool to win to nil is worth considering at 2/1.
Virgil van Dijk got his Premier League campaign off to a scoring start and we always like a little punt on the giant Dutchman getting on the scoresheet – particularly against what looks like an incredibly shaky Chelsea defence. The former Celtic and Southampton central defender is 20/1 to open the scoring on Wednesday and 6/1 to find the net at any time.
Divock Origi will most likely start again in place of Sadio Mane, who only returned to training recently following the African Cup of Nations. The Belgian, fresh from scoring against Norwich on Friday, is 7/5 to repeat his Champions League final heroics and find the net, and is 5/1 to nab the first goal.