Having spent last season fallow, as Chelsea are seemingly obliged to do every other year these days, the Blues started 2018/19 in decent form.
But they’re drifting away from the top two after only winning one of their last four league games after Wednesday night’s loss to Wolves. A victory here will reignite their season, plus they’ll make Liverpool fans very happy which is obviously high on the list of Chelsea’s priorities.
The trouble is, Paddy doesn’t think the home side will win, and neither do I. Chelsea are priced at 3/1, with City odds on at 5/6 and the draw 11/4.
If you like to base your best on history and omens:
Maurizio Sarri has faced Pep Guardiola three times, and lost them all by an aggregate score of 8-3.
City beat Napoli home and away in the Champions League group stage last season, and then won the Community Shield against the Blues in August.
But what bothers me more than the managers’ head-to-head record is that Chelsea have already conceded five goals at home in three games against other members of the big six this season. Mark Hughes got the boot for drawing 2-2 at home with Manchester United, so Sarri should be thoroughly ashamed of himself for doing likewise.
It wasn’t bad luck they’ve conceded those goals either – Chelsea allowed 10 clear-cut chances across those three matches.
As City have had five and conceded just one across their trips to the Emirates, Anfield and Wembley, it’s hard to see a scenario where Pep’s pups don’t have the better of the chances.
However, it’s looking likely they’ll have to do without the services of Sergio Aguero, who reportedly suffered an injury in training on Monday. This is good news for Chelsea, as the Argentine has scored 12 times against them in his career, and only netted more times against Newcastle.
The bad news for Chelsea is City have a man ready to step into the breach who should score a boat load before too long. That man is Gabriel Jesus.
The Brazilian has had 10 clear-cut chances in the Premier League in 2018/19, and missed the lot. Even an average finisher would only do that 1 per cent of the time, so Jesus must’ve walked under a ladder or something.
He also picked up a Champions League hat-trick recently, so it’s not as if he’s entirely out of form.
Obviously check the team news before placing your bet, but if Jesus is in the XI then I would think hard about putting his name on your coupon.
City’s number 33 is 4/1 to open the scoring, or evens to net at any time. With any luck, David Luiz will wave him towards goal as he did for Son Heung-Min at Wembley recently.
For Chelsea, the goal scorer selection is harder to make. Their top scorer in league games among the big six since the start of last season is Marcos Alonso. Half of his top flight goals in that period have been in big matches, but he’s hardly a reliable goal scorer.
Eden Hazard hasn’t been recently either. The Belgian suffered with the well-known curse of being declared player of the year in September. Since the start of October, Hazard has scored one goal in 13 matches for club and country.
He has the talent to net against anyone, but with nine shots in the box since his last league goal, he isn’t exactly overdue one. If you think he is, Hazard is 7/1 to score first, or 15/8 at any time.
The best choice for a home goal will be whoever starts out of Olivier Giroud or Alvaro Morata. City don’t give much away, but two of the five non-penalty goals they’ve conceded in the league this season have been headers.
Morata was the league’s top scorer of headed goals in 2017/18, and three of Giroud’s four league goals for the Blues have been with his noggin.
The Spaniard is 13/5 to score, with the Frenchman available at 12/5. But will Chelsea even score? City have conceded just once in their last five away league games against other big sides, so on that basis a bet on them to keep a clean sheet, at 21/10, looks mighty tempting.
Plus Chelsea have drawn a blank in the last three meetings of these clubs, and in two of the last three tussles at Stamford Bridge.
With form like that, it’s no wonder the home side are 7/1 to win to nil, while the visitors are 11/4.
In light of this, it’s surprising the odds for both teams to score are 1/2 – when a ‘no’ bet is available at 7/5.
No team has played more away games than City in the big six ‘mini league’ since Pep took charge, and only United – by one – have had fewer games on the road, where both teams scored. I’ll be betting ‘no’ here, so let’s hope Arrizabalaga and Ederson are on form.
The stats and form are also suggesting a bet on under 2.5 goals is the punt of choice here, and it’s priced at 5/4 if you’re interested. This season, City have scored two at Arsenal, one at Spurs and none at Liverpool, so they look unlikely to run riot on Saturday, even if they’re deserved favourites to emerge victorious.
And win they probably shall. It’s just what City do these days, isn’t it?
C’mon, Chelsea, give their tiresome title procession a nudge off the tracks.
*Prices correct at time of posting