In a week that has seen Manchester City increase their lead at the top of the Premier League to eight points after their closest rivals Liverpool lost 1-0 to Leicester City and Chelsea drew 1-1 at home to Brighton, this weekend’s games take on added significance.

Manchester City’s opening game of the year is a tough looking fixture away at an in-form Arsenal, which starts the weekend EPL action off on Saturday, however it is the game on Sunday which most people will be watching very closely.

That’s because second place Chelsea will host Liverpool at Stamford Bridge knowing that a defeat for either side could well be catastrophic for any chances they have of catching Manchester City at the top of the table.

Especially if by the time that these two giants face off on Sunday, City have extended their lead at the top of the table to 11 points.

Such a big game will certainly draw in plenty of punters and you can be sure that there will be lots of bets made on the game, many of them with bet365 Sport in the UK and also with BetRivers Sportsbook in the United States.

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Let’s begin with a look at this weekend’s fixtures in the Premier League.

Premier League – Matchday 21 (1st – 3rd January)Bet Stars Football

All kick off times are 3pm on Saturday or 2pm on Sunday unless otherwise stated.

Saturday 1st January

  • Arsenal v Manchester City (12.30pm)
  • Leicester City v Norwich City
  • Watford v Tottenham Hotspur
  • Crystal Palace v West Ham United (5.30pm)

Sunday 2nd January

  • Brentford v Aston Villa
  • Everton v Brighton
  • Leeds United v Burnley
  • Southampton v Newcastle United
  • Chelsea v Liverpool (4.30pm)

Monday 3rd January

  • Manchester United v Wolverhampton Wanderers (5.30pm)

Alongside the games that feature the top four there are lots of other key games scheduled to take place this weekend and on Monday. There are key games at the foot of the table for Norwich (away to Leicester), Newcastle (at Southampton) and Burnley who face another relegation threatened side in Leeds.

Watford meanwhile face another tough test against Spurs, while there is an intriguing London derby between Crystal Palace and West Ham in store on Saturday night.

Monday night also sees a big game as under-fire Manchester United, fresh from their fortunate draw against Newcastle, take on a Wolves side in good form at the moment and who have a very imposing defensive record.

However, it is the game on Sunday between Chelsea and Liverpool that will certainly be foremost in the minds of most punters this week.

Chelsea v Liverpool Preview

Factfile

  • The teams have met a total 189 times.
  • Liverpool have won 82 of those games, Chelsea winning 65, with 42 draws.
  • In the Premier League era, Liverpool have won 23 times against Chelsea, the Londoners amassing 21 wins and the teams have drawn 15 times.
  • Chelsea are unbeaten against Liverpool in their last two games.
  • However, they have not beaten Liverpool at home in the EPL since May 2018 (drawing once, losing twice since).
  • 12 of the last 17 games between the two teams have seen both teams score.
  • Chelsea have won three and Liverpool five of the last ten between the two teams,
  • However, they last met at Anfield back in August when they drew 1-1. Kai Havertz scoring for Chelsea and Mo Salah converted a penalty as an equaliser for Liverpool. Chelsea played the second half with 10 men in that game after Reece James was sent off for handball for the penalty.
  • Players to have played for both clubs include Mohamed Salah, Yossi Benayoun, Fernando Torres, David Speedie, Nigel Spackman, Nicolas Anelka, Boudewijn Zenden, Glen Johnson, Joey Jones, Raul Meireles and Joe Cole.
  • Rafa Benitez, now Everton manager, is the only person to have managed both Liverpool and Chelsea in his career.

Chelsea

  • League Position – 2nd
  • EPL Matches Played – 20
  • Points – 42
  • Goals Scored – 43
  • Goals Conceded – 14
  • Top EPL Goalscorer – Mason Mount – 7
  • Manager – Thomas Tuchel

Thomas Tuchel has been a vociferous critic of the Premier League’s decision to plough on with fixtures over the last few weeks and he probably isn’t going to be happy that Chelsea will be without three key defenders Thiago Silva, Andreas Christensen and Reece James for the game.

In addition, the Londoners have a number of players on or just returning from injury or the Covid-19 list, which means that they are not likely to be fully match fit if they are asked to play against Liverpool this weekend.

A late equaliser for the visitors against Brighton in midweek dented their title hopes, but it was the least the Seagulls deserved after they more than matched Chelsea throughout the game.

It will be interesting to see what team and formation Tuchel lines up with in this game, which is essentially a must-win game for both teams with a draw or defeat likely to leave either side too far behind leaders Manchester City.

  • Chelsea Possible XI – (3-4-2-1) – Mendy (GK), Azpilicueta, Rudiger, Chalobah, Pulisic, Alonso, Kante, Jorginho, Mount, Hudson-Odoi, Lukaku.

Liverpool

  • League Position – 3rd
  • EPL Matches Played – 19
  • Points – 41
  • Goals Scored – 50
  • Goals Conceded – 16
  • Top EPL Goalscorer – Mohamed Salah – 15
  • Manager – Jurgen Klopp

A midweek 1-0 defeat at Leicester and an uncharacteristically poor performance from Liverpool, who were very wasteful in front of goal, has put Jurgen Klopp’s team under pressure and nine points behind Manchester City, albeit with one game in hand over their rivals.

With three key players set to leave the club after this game to join up with their nations for the African Cup of Nations (Salah, Mane and Keita), this could be their last chance to contribute to the Reds title tilt before they head away and after a wasteful display against Leicester, Salah and Mane probably feel they need to.

The Reds welcomed back a few players from injury and the Covid-19 list in midweek and although Andrew Robertson is still suspended, the visitors should be at full-strength otherwise for this crucial game.

However, the Reds are going to have to play much better than they did against a below-strength Leicester team in midweek if they are to get anything against an injury hit Chelsea side on Sunday and keep their Premier League title hopes alive.

  • Liverpool Possible XI – (4-3-3) – Alisson (GK), Alexander-Arnold, Tsimikas, Van Dijk, Matip, Fabinho, Henderson, Keita, Mane, Salah, Jota

Our Tips For Sunday’s Game

Bet365 have Chelsea as the 2/1 outsiders for Sunday’s game, even though they are the home team, which is down to their injury list as well as their poor recent form. Liverpool are 13/10, but I think that there are going to be plenty of takers on both those prices.

That’s because the draw here doesn’t really help either side and will just offer Manchester City the chance to go further ahead in the title race. Normally, either manager would probably be satisfied with a draw in this game, but not so on Sunday.

As such, I think we are in for a good game, provided it goes ahead and my tip is to back the Londoners to land a narrow win at 2/1.