*All prices are bang up to date with our snazzy widgets, while odds in copy are accurate at time of publishing but subject to change.
Some people call Barnsley ‘the Chelsea of the Championship’. Now, in a world where some people call dressing gowns ‘house coats’, is there really much substance to any of these random claims anymore? Either way, they’re meeting in the FA Cup so we can find out.
Now, not to give away any spoilers, but Chelsea did absolutely batter Barnsley in the.. *checks 2020-21 competition name* Carabao Cup back in September. They hammered them 6-0 and that was under Frank Lampard’s regime of memes and Dad jokes in the WhatsApp group.
Now, you can make the argument that it was so long ago that Kai Havertz looked like a footballer and Barnsley has claimed its independence from Yorkshire. But you also have to realise that Chelsea have improved considerably since then, too.
Thursday 8pm: Barnsley v Chelsea
BBC One and BBC iPlayer
Obviously with Chelsea being within touching distance of third after looking like they’d finish in the bottom half there for the most of the season, this hardly acts as a priority, but trying to impress a new manager is the biggest motivator in football.
Oh and for those too lazy to check, Barnsley are 13th in the Championship despite not having won any of their last five, only scoring in one of those games. Standard Championship behaviour. Here’s a Thursday night Bet Builder for you fine folk.
I don’t want to waste time insulting your intelligence by explaining to you why I believe the Roman Abramovich-backed, Thomas Tuchel-coached global conglomerate Chelsea Football Club will beat the tenants of Oakwell, Grove Street, Barnsley, S71 1ET.
They just will. I’m not sure I can throw much more reasoning behind such a short-price poke so I’ll refrain. Chelsea to Win kicks us off, here.
Chelsea will likely have 80% of the ball, as is their way these days – and while Barnsley can occasionally break at pace, they’re actually more considered in their build-up than other teams in the division. This is why they clawed their way out of trouble last year in dramatic fashion and had people wondering just how they were ever in that situation in the first place.
There were shades of Bournemouth about them. Unfortunately this season, there’s shades of Dartmouth about them again, and they’ve scored in just one of their last five games in the Championship.
We’re not saying that Barnsley are hard to watch – it’s definitely not that. But to borrow a horse racing analogy, Barnsley are very much off the bridle for 80% of the season and come alive unexpectedly at the right times. And no, that’s not an invitation to back them in-play either. Side with Both Teams To Score? No.
Now, perhaps the biggest issue with Barnsley is that they’re so reliant on a single player to produce – and that’s former England U21 star Cauley Woodrow.
Yes, he’s got a name that would make you consider him a clerk in the Exchequer’s office but he’s also a very talented footballer, who’s netted 35 times in just over 80 appearances for The Tykes and has three times more goals than any other Barnsley player in the Championship this season.
He’ll be shooting from everywhere – make no mistake – and that’s why we’re backing Cauley Woodrow to Have Two or More Shots.
Tammy Abraham is probably more hard done by than any other Chelsea player at the moment, as he’s certainly not in favour with Tuchel but given his hat-trick against Luton, he’ll naturally start this game.
Sometimes that built-up frustration is a negative, but in his case here, he’s too good and too clever not to take his chances when they’re presented to him. Expect Abraham to shoot on sight and clock up Three or More Shots on Target to show he’s worth more than any of Chelsea’s other central strikers.
Tips for Barnsley v Chelsea
These selections in an insured Bet Builder will give you odds of around 18/1 with Paddy Power.
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* All prices are bang up to date with our snazzy widgets, while odds in copy are accurate at time of publishing but subject to change.
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