Sports Betting Weekly

Chelsea v Liverpool

When: Sunday, 10 May 2015 @ 22:00 (FINISHED)
Where: Stamford Bridge
It isn’t often that winning the league becomes a secondary objective for a club, but Chelsea fans will be rejoicing after their 1-0 win over Crystal Palace not only gave them a first title since 2010, but also meant that hated rivals Liverpool will now have to perform the traditional guard of honour for the newly-crowned champions as they enter the field of play on Sunday.

Some fans of a Liverpool persuasion may claim that Chelsea deliberately went out of their way to ensure that this was a possibility, as Jose Mourinho’s side needed seven points from their games against Arsenal, Leicester City and Crystal Palace to make this happen – which they duly returned.

Now, Liverpool talisman Steven Gerrard – if picked – will have to stand and applaud the Chelsea players onto the pitch and ponder what might have been after once coming close to signing for the club, in a bitter end to what has been a disastrous final season for the former England international.

With the Reds failing to get past Aston Villa in the F.A. Cup semi-finals, the fairytale ending of Gerrard playing in the final on his birthday was dashed, and he was also sent off less than a minute after coming on against Manchester United. Now he may have to go through one final indignity at Stamford Bridge.

Mourinho himself has publicly criticised the ceremony – saying that there are other ways to respect champions – but one wonders how much of that was tongue-in-cheek, how much he meant and how much was mind games.

Whatever way you look at it, it will be a hugely uncomfortable day for Liverpool fans as the Blues play their first game as official champions – and they will do so still undefeated at home in the league this season; a record which the club will be looking to preserve here.

Liverpool’s hopes of finishing in the top four are realistically over, with rivals Manchester United sitting four points above the Merseyside outfit in the league, so the best Brendan Rodgers and his side can aim for is securing fifth spot.

Whether Rodgers will be there beyond this season remains to be seen, with fans growing increasingly impatient with the Northern Irishman – whose bid to remain in charge hasn’t been aided by the fact that Jurgen Klopp is leaving Borussia Dortmund in the summer and Rafael Benitez is expected to step down at Napoli – and he has now gone three years without winning a trophy.

Some fans even went as far as to have a banner made demanding the removal of Rodgers and the re-hiring of Benitez, which was flown over Anfield before their 2-1 win over QPR last Saturday.

The calls for Rodgers’ head may get a lot louder by the time the weekend has finished against a Chelsea side strongly expected to claim all three points on Sunday, with the Blues 7/2 favourites to secure their 26th win of the season, Liverpool listed at 29/4 and the draw available at 15/4.

With Diego Costa still expected to be sidelined through injury, Chelsea’s main source of goals is again expected to be PFA Player of the Year Eden Hazard, who has been exceptional for the Blues this season with an impressive return of 17 goals and 10 assists. The Belgian is currently in good form in front of goal with four goals in his last seven starts and, as such, the bookies have priced him at 11/2 to open the scoring and 39/20 to find the net at any point.

As for Liverpool, maybe Gerrard will be inspired to spoil the party atmosphere at Stamford Bridge and pull one last big performance out of the bag – he is 14/1 to score first or 5/1 to score anytime.