Champions to protect home record against Liverpool

IF FOOTBALL was politics, then Chelsea have won by a landslide. Jose Mourinho’s side did all that they needed last week to confirm the Premier League title with a 1-0 victory against Crystal Palace.

They’ve shown mental strength throughout the year and don’t expect them to take their eye off the ball against Liverpool at Stamford Bridge this Sunday.

Chants of ‘boring, boring, Chelsea’ look set to continue as the Blues will be loath to surrender their unbeaten home record for this season. They haven’t lost at the Bridge for 18 matches, or for 17 matches in any competitions home or away.

Plus, it has been seven matches since Liverpool were victorious against their London rivals.

The imperious form of the home side’s back-four, and in particular their evergreen captain John Terry and right-back Branislav Ivanovic, has given them the stable platform on which to see out the campaign without another defeat.

With the title already in the locker, Chelsea are likely to give some of their younger stars a run out, such as England U18 starlet Dominic Solanke and midfielder Ruben Loftus-Cheek.

Any inclusion of unproven youth may affect their ability to score against Liverpool, who are still in with a sniff of Champions League qualification, especially with Diego Costa and Loic Remy unlikely to play any part.

Recently crowned PFA player of the year Eden Hazard – Chelsea’s most potent weapon – has also been uploading holiday snaps on his social media account, sparking rumours that he’ll be taking the rest of the season off.

However, the Reds are struggling for both form and firepower. They scraped past Queens Park Rangers last time out and failed to net against Hull and West Brom in the two preceding fixtures.

Daniel Sturridge is now out for the remainder of the season and misfiring Mario Balotelli is uncertain to feature, meaning Liverpool will either play without a recognised striker or draft in shot-shy Rickie Lambert, which they did in their previous match.

With neither side either able or willing to field their first choice attacking options, common sense points to a low-scoring stalemate here. The fact you can back Chelsea at as big as 23/20 suggests the bookmakers are confident laying the champions.

I’m happy to take a draw with Betway at 23/10, while a sell of total goals with Sporting Index could also be worth a wager. Just one of Chelsea’s last five fixtures has seen more than one successful strike, and Liverpool’s woes in front of goal are well-documented.

With that in mind, the best-priced 19/2 available with Betway on there being no goalscorer will certainly appeal to many.

■ Pointers…
Chelsea to draw with Liverpool at 23/10 with Betway
Sell total goals at 2.4 with Sporting Index