Paul Merson reveals his prediction for Liverpool FC v Chelsea FC
Paul Merson and Chris Sutton are both expecting to see Liverpool FC and Chelsea FC play out a 1-1 draw on Saturday
Paul Merson is backing Liverpool FC and Chelsea FC to play out a 1-1 draw in Saturday’s Premier League clash at Anfield.
Liverpool FC have been struggling to find consistent form in the Premier League in recent weeks and they start the weekend in ninth place after having lost their last two games in the top flight.
The Reds slumped to a disheartening 3-0 loss by Brighton and Hove Albion last weekend but they managed to bounce back in midweek by booking their place in the FA Cup fourth round with a 1-0 victory over Wolves.
Chelsea FC have also been struggling under new boss Graham Potter. The Blues are 10th and level on points with Liverpool FC but have only won one of their last four outings in the English top flight.
Former Arsenal star Merson feels that Saturday’s game could well be decisive in the race for Champions League qualification via a top-four finish, with the ex-midfielder claiming that the losing side would likely be guaranteed to miss out on a spot in the top four.
However, the former England international is expecting the game to end all square at Anfield on Saturday lunchtime.
Writing in his column for Sportskeeda, Merson said: “Ninth place against 10th place – is this a big game? I’ll go as far as to say that whoever loses this match is completely out of the Premier League top-four race. This is a massive game. The team that wins this game could go on a run and really push for a place in the top four.
“Liverpool got blown away by Brighton the other day. I did mention that there was no way Brighton were going to lose that game, and they deserved to win. The Liverpool players who played against Wolves aren’t going to play on Saturday. Mohamed Salah isn’t closing down like he used to. They need to go back to closing down and winning the ball high up the pitch – they’re not doing that at all at the moment
“This is going to be an interesting game. Chelsea have got injuries and aren’t playing great football, but if they can get through the first 20 minutes, they’ve got a chance. Cody Gakpo’s been struggling a bit so far – I can’t remember players for Holland coming in and ripping it up in the Premier League in the last couple of years. He’ll need time, and he might need to come out of the team for a game or two.
“Liverpool have got to hang in there and win matches until the likes of [Diogo] Jota and [Luis] Diaz are back. They need to get their confidence back up and get on a roll. There’s not a lot between these two teams, and I think this game will end in a draw.”
Former Chelsea FC star Chris Sutton is also expecting to see Saturday’s game end all square on Merseyside.
The ex-forward feels that both sides’ inconsistent form makes this a difficult game to call, but he is also ultimately expecting it to end up as a 1-1 draw.
“How on earth can you call this game?” Sutton wrote in his own column for BBC Sport. “Both sides have been incredibly inconsistent this season, and it is impossible to know what they will do next.
“I’ve been unconvinced by Liverpool for a while now, because of their lack of energy and legs in midfield, and their defeat at Brighton last weekend was not even that big a surprise.
“I know the Reds then went and beat Wolves in the FA Cup, but I’ve not seen anything that makes me think they are going to bounce back and clinch their first league win of 2023.
“It is a similar story with Chelsea, because we don’t know which Blues team will turn up at Anfield.
“They got an important win over Crystal Palace last time out but they needed some big saves from Kepa Arrizabalaga to get over the line.
“A win would be a huge boost in confidence for both teams, but it is hard to make a case for either of them to take the three points.”