How no European football helps Liverpool and Chelsea’s Premier League challenge
Lee Gormley | September 13, 2016
No European football to boost Chelsea and Liverpool?
European football is back this week with Arsenal, Tottenham, Manchester City and Manchester United among those taking part. Although, for Chelsea and Liverpool, there will be no Champions League fixtures involved at Stamford Bridge and Anfield respectively.
The Blues rallied to their maiden European crown in 2012, while Liverpool have not tasted success in the continent’s elite club competition since their fifth trophy in 2005, and there will be no chance of adding to those victories this season.
Participation in European competition is regarded as the pinnacle of club football, with the financial rewards also being a huge incentive, but a long and gruelling campaign in the Champions League or Europa League can sometimes become a hindrance to domestic proceedings.
Both Jurgen Klopp and Antonio Conte won’t have to worry about such a problem, with the coaches having full focus on Premier League duties this season, and ahead of Chelsea and Liverpool’s latest meeting, that could actually be a massive boost for both this term.
Domestic prospects enhanced this season
Chelsea are set to welcome domestic rivals Liverpool to the capital for a tasty Friday night match-up, in a fixture which always provides drama and excitement, with the Blues entering at 5/4 with Coral to earn home supremacy.
Conte will be keen to bounce back from a disappointing draw against Swansea City last week, while Klopp’s Reds are aiming to add to their impressive 4-1 thrashing of champions Leicester City, making them 11/5 for an away victory in London.
With many of the top-flight’s title challengers and European position contenders competing in midweek, both Chelsea and Liverpool have an advantage going into matchweek five, as they have a full week to prepare and will possess fresh legs for their encounter.
There are arguments for both sides of the scale when it comes to whether a lack of European activity can be beneficial or not, though Liverpool have proved in the past that it helps bolster top tier efforts.
During the fateful 2013/14 campaign, the Reds rallied agonisingly close to their first ever Premier League title triumph, though an infamous Steven Gerrard slip against Chelsea (who else?) and a complete collapse in a Crystal Palace clash saw them blow it with three games to go.
That campaign the Merseysiders were free of any European activity and ultimately finished second to then champions Man City, just two points behind the Sky Blues in their bid for a first league crown since 1990.
Lack of European action not always a boost
Man Utd’s previous campaigns under former boss Louis van Gaal proved that a lack of European involvement isn’t always guaranteed to bolster league performances, with the Red Devils having only manage fourth spot in 2014 despite all three teams above them being part of the Champions League campaign that term during their absence.
Although, after bright starts to their respective seasons, both Chelsea and Liverpool will hold confidence of enjoying a successful domestic campaign, as they prepare to collide too. Coral ambassador and all-time Premier League scorer Alan Shearer recently agreed that both clubs are set to prosper without European competition to prepare for.
In both set-ups, the two sides possess players that have enjoyed their best showings at domestic level too, and a season focusing mainly on their Premier League outings can bring personal and club rewards.
For the Reds, Roberto Firmino has been showcasing his attacking talents in the top-flight, and will look to continue doing his talking domestically with the aim of catching new Brazil boss Tite’s eye in the coming months.
For the Blues, Brazilian-born frontman Diego Costa has been in sublime form so far this term, recapturing his clinical instincts in front of goal and the Spain international is 4/1 to open proceedings on Friday night.
The Chelsea finisher has dispatched six times in five outings ahead of Liverpool’s arrival in London, and he will also be hoping to maintain that rampant run in order to further boost his stay on the national scene under new Spanish tactician Julen Lopetegui.
Chelsea v Liverpool tips point to open clash
With vital league points at stake in the weekend’s opening encounter in the capital, Chelsea have hit with a defensive setback, as skipper John Terry will be forced to remain on the sideline through injury, meaning David Luiz could return for his second debut.
The Brazilian’s return to the Blues was the biggest shock of the summer transfer window and he set for a baptism of fire this time out, with the last two meetings having produced six goals.
With Liverpool’s attacking approach under German coach Klopp and Luiz set to slot into Conte’s Blues backline, it has all the makings of another close clash at Stamford Bridge, and odds of 9/5 on there being 3.5 goals are certainly promising.
Both Chelsea and Liverpool will have had a full week to prepare for their Friday night battle at the Bridge, with another exciting fixture match-up potentially on the cards, as the two sides look to earn further success in a season in which they are absent from continent’s elite competitions.
See what Scott Minto thinks below ahead of the Friday night tussle between Chelsea and Liverpool.