I’m hesitant to ever fully commit to a team being good. The reasons for that, apart from this whirlwind of both a year and a Premier League campaign, is because footballers are flimsy and the culture at a club generally has to be implemented by a central leading figure.
Of course, the primary issue here is that the metaphorical Chelsea ship is being steered by a man who is every bit as likely to be distracted by the toy section of the Argos catalogue than he is to reverse fortunes if things go wrong.
Luckily for them, they can welcome Krasnodar to Stamford Bridge without having to worry about qualification – it’s already secured – and the logistics of international travel. With two huge away games coming up in the Premier League in the next few days against Everton and Wolves, Lampard will absolutely be shuffling the pack.
So what kind of game will that produce? Well, given their depth, probably one that is still very watchable. Bizarrely, Lampard is the probably the most-heavily backed manager in the Premier League over the last 12 months, and while we can credit that to saving money from their transfer embargo, it really is like giving money to a child in a sweet shop.
Chelsea v Krasnodar
8pm, Tuesday November 8
BT Sport 3
I know this looks mad on paper, but bear with me. Krasnodar need a draw to qualify for the Europa League. Chelsea don’t need to win, nor do they need to risk any injuries ahead of a hectic festive Premier League period.
It’s hard to match intent, and given that Chelsea won’t be in a rush to score early, they’ll easily concede the impetus to a team that are coming off back-to-back wins for the first time in a while. After hitting five against Rotor in the Russian Prem at the weekend, they’re in the right mind frame to score if required.
Think about the tempo this game is going to be played at early on and you’ll understand why I’m adopting this line of thought.
Neither will be in a rush to grab a result because they’d probably shake hands for a point apiece if they could.
You need to consider the reaction to a goal when you’re backing these markets: if Krasnodar score, they’ll genuinely put ten behind the ball and Chelsea operate best when they’re on the break.
If Chelsea score first? Krasnodar will try and settle things down for half an hour, before giving it socks in the last 20 after weathering the storm.
This is a massive price for a game that doesn’t need a goal, and whose story will be told by the reaction to the opening goal rather than the need to actively chase one. Most of this game will be balls played between centre-halves and their goalkeepers, waiting for time to run out.
With that in mind, it feels like it would need an incident to spark this into life, and I just don’t foresee that coming early on, if it even does at all.
*All odds in copy and recording correct at time of publication. Odds are subject to change but they’re always bang on with our clever betting banners.
Chelsea v Krasnodar tips
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