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Chelsea can keep it clean

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  • Chelsea can keep it clean

    Chelsea can keep it clean
    Chelsea are a confident pick to reel off another win to nil in the Premier League on Saturday - check out our match-by-match verdict.

    Chelsea to win to nil v QPR at 8/11

    West Ham to beat Stoke at 11/5

    Arsenal to win to nil v Burnley at evens

    Newcastle v Liverpool (1245 GMT)

    Who would have thought it? Alan Pardew is sitting pretty at the helm after three wins on the bounce and a quarter-final berth in the League Cup. Liverpool qualified for the next round in a rather different manner but at least Mario Balotelli found his way onto the scoresheet to the relief of all at Anfield. He may have taken the headlines but the two late goals did little to paper over the cracks. This game can usually be relied upon to produce goals and no fixture in Premier League history has produced more while Liverpool have scored more goals against Newcastle in the league (84) than against any other opponent. Liverpool have kept just two clean sheets in 19 and there have been over 2.5 goals in their last 11 away games which makes prices around 8/11 for that eventuality seem perfectly reasonable, while the braver may wish to consider the general 7/4 about over 3.5 goals. They may be safer waters to swim in than the outright result market with both teams difficult to get a handle on at present. Newcastle may have enjoyed a good last week but one swallow does not a summer make, while Liverpool are still adjusting to life after Suarez. The Reds lost away at West Ham and were arguably fortunate to beat QPR while their 3-0 win at White Hart Lane is looking less laudable by the day so it's possible to argue that the value certainly lies with Newcastle whose only home defeat of the season came on the opening day against Manchester City. However, this may be one to sit back and watch.

    Verdict: Newcastle 2 Liverpool 2 (IO)
    Back Newcastle and Liverpool to draw at 13/5

    Opta facts:

    Newcastle have had five players sent off in their last four Premier League games against Liverpool. Only Everton (13 v Liverpool) have earned more red cards against one single opponent than Newcastle against Liverpool (11).

    Against no side have Liverpool won more often than they have against Newcastle in the league (23 wins – level with their record v Aston Villa).

    Fabio Borini has scored three goals in three league games against the Magpies – he’s not scored more than once against any other opponent.

    Liverpool have won four and lost just one of their last seven league games against the Magpies (D2). However, Newcastle have won two and lost just one of the last four home games against the Reds in the league.

    Papiss Demba Cisse has scored a goal every 61 minutes so far this season; the best record in the league of all players to have scored more than once.

    Arsenal v Burnley (1500)

    This really should be straightforward for Arsenal. Life in North London rarely seems that simple and, as ever, Arsene Wenger has a long injury list to contend with but, as admirable as Burnley and manager Sean Dyche are (and they do deserve plaudits), they shouldn't slip up here. Burnley have drawn two of their four away games and only went down by one at Swansea but West Brom put four past them and they could be on the end of a similar scoreline here. The Gunners have rarely been at their fluent best and have only a defeat of Palace to show for their efforts at the Emirates with draws against Hull, Spurs and Man City but Aaron Ramsey and Theo Walcott are back in contention while Danny Welbeck and Alexis Sanchez continue to grow in influence. Burnley have welcomed Danny Ings back to their ranks and he can provide some much-needed cut and thrust to their campaign and it's more than likely that he will be granted a chance or two in the course of the 90 minutes. There is also the complication of a Champions League game on Tuesday which could see Wenger rotate his squad and see the possibility of the Arsenal players taking their foot off the gas if they're ahead and coasting home in the second half. As such, backing them to win by a wide margin does come with risks attached and preference is to back them to win to nil. They've struggled to put out the same back five this season, the return of Ings is a concern and their general defensive travails and poor record of shutting the opposition out at the Emirates ensure that there's enough in the price to tempt me in. They kept a clean sheet in their last game against Sunderland and can do so again against opponents who have failed to score in six of their 10 games in all competitions.

    Verdict: Arsenal 3 Burnley 0 (IO)
    Back Arsenal to beat Burnley to nil at evens

    Opta facts:

    Arsenal have been behind at some point in each of their four Premier League home games this season.

    Burnley have conceded 12 goals in their last four league games - this after previously keeping three clean sheets in a row.

    Arsene Wenger’s side are unbeaten in their last 22 home Premier League matches, winning 14 and drawing eight. However, they have kept just two clean sheets in their last 10 at the Emirates.

    Burnley are the 12th side to fail to win any of their opening nine Premier League matches of a single season - seven of the previous 11 sides were relegated.

    Chelsea v QPR (1500)

    It seems quite remarkable that Chelsea have failed to score in three of their last four Premier League games against west London rivals Queens Park Rangers and they surely won't fail to find the net again. There has been a gradual improvement from the R's and Chelsea have a trip to Maribor to focus on while they do have injury problems up front with a fourth game in a relatively short space of time a big ask for Didier Drogba. Jose Mourinho was reportedly unimpressed by the performance of some of his 'reserve' players against Shrewsbury and they could be given another chance to shine against a side that seems certain to be involved in a relegation battle. QPR's points have all been picked up at home and they've scored just one goal (albeit against parsimonious Southampton) in losing five games on the road in all competitions. Yes, they are getting better and, yes, Charlie Austin has shown signs of his quality and the new signings are bedding in but they're operating at a different level to their hosts who will be expected to put down a marker before the Manchester derby and cement their spot at the top of the table. If the likes of Andre Schurrle find their scoring boots after a disappointing outing in midweek that could spell trouble for Redknapp's side who have lost 4-0 to both Manchester United and Spurs and I couldn't put anyone off playing the correct scorelines. Chelsea don't concede many, as the Opta fact below proves, and I prefer to steam into the short prices about another home win to nil.

    Verdict: Chelsea 3 QPR 0 (IO)
    Back Chelsea to beat QPR to nil at 8/11

    Opta facts:

    Cesc Fabregas has been involved in nine goals (one goal, eight assists) in nine league games for Chelsea.

    Harry Redknapp has lost just one of his last six Premier League clashes with Chelsea (W2 D3). However, he has seen his teams lose all five league clashes with Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea.

    In their last 12 league matches at Stamford Bridge, Chelsea have kept 10 clean sheets and conceded just four goals in total.

    The last time a side in the Premier League relegation zone went to the home of the league leaders and won was September 2001 (Southampton beating Sam Allardyce’s Bolton 1-0). Since then, the league leaders have won 24 of their 26 home matches against a side in the relegation zone (D2).

    Charlie Austin has scored 23 league goals for QPR since the beginning of last season - 17 more than any other player (Ravel Morrison, 6).

    Everton v Swansea (1500)

    After back-to-back wins, Everton have returned to the half of the table they have been more familiar with for the past decade and you the get impression they may just be starting to find their way. The level of opposition has dropped (Aston Villa and Burnley have been beaten recently) and now they will seek to see off a Swansea side who have never beaten the Toffees in the league. However, I would still be wary about backing them at 4/5 here. A lot of Everton's problems this season have been self-inflicted with individual defensive errors having cost them on several occasions. There was a repeat show at Burnley last weekend when a Romelu Lukaku pass went astray leaving his backline totally exposed. The hosts do have goals in them but they need them to win games right now as clean sheets are few and far between. With that in mind, it could pay to side with in-form Swansea midfielder Gylfi Sigurdsson. Including his three international goals this term, the Icelandic star has bagged six this season, not to mention seven assists in the league alone. It's also worth noting that seven of his nine Swansea goals have come away from home - hardly a co-incidence given the threat he offers coming forward from midfield, often to support a lone striker. He's 5/1 to find the target at Goodison - there are certainly worse bets around this weekend.

    Verdict: Everton 2 Swansea 1 (AS)
    Back Everton to beat Swansea 2-1 at 7/1

    Opta facts:

    Romelu Lukaku has scored in three of his five Premier League appearances against Swansea.

    Swansea beat Everton 3-0 earlier this season in the League Cup which was their first win against the Toffees in any competition after 15 defeats and five draws.

    Ross Barkley scored the winning goal in each of last season’s two league games between Everton and Swansea.

    The Toffees have scored a joint league-high four goals from outside the area (alongside West Ham). Conversely, Swansea are one of four sides yet to concede a goal from outside the box.

    Hull v Southampton (1500)

    Southampton sit proudly in second place in the table going into this game and the bookies have been running for cover when it comes to pricing up the free-scoring Saints. Graziano Pelle and Sadio Mane have both made flying starts in front of goal, with Dusan Tadic the creator in chief in behind. However, it is noteable that Ronald Koeman's men have not been firing so well on the road. Six points from a possible 12 is still a decent return but the Saints have already lost at Spurs and Liverpool, neither of whom have set anything alight so far this term. Only five goals have been scored in those four away games and while they may be just 21/20 to win this game, it should not be classed as an easy one by any means. Hull have lost just twice so far in the league, one of those against champions Manchester City, and they look capable of testing their high-flying visitors. Last week's goalless draw at Anfield (which followed a 2-2 draw at Arsenal) was the first time in seven games Hull had not scored twice in a league game which helps show the goal threat they now possess. Nikica Jelavic has made a decent start to the season while Mohamed Diame has thrived since his transfer from West Ham, chipping in with several key goals. They've not been quite so good at the back which is a potential worry given they are up against Pelle and co, but last week's clean sheet at Anfield will have boosted confidence and the impressive Andrew Robertson should now be fit to return at wing-back too. With Hull proving hard to beat, I'm looking to lay Southampton, who appear to have been priced up too short, especially when you consider their tough midweek League Cup outing (they won 3-2 at Stoke) when Hull were resting up. The double-chance market offers such an opportunity but you can squeeze more from the price if you back Hull on the handicaps.

    Verdict: Hull 2 Southampton 2 (AS)
    Check out all the markets for Hull v Southampton

    Opta facts:

    Hull have drawn five of their nine Premier League games this season – they only drew seven in the whole of 2013/14.

    Southampton have won their last four league games against Hull and lost just one of the last 16 in all competitions.

    Southampton have won six of their opening nine games to a top-flight season for the first time in their history.

    Ronald Koeman’s side have conceded just five league goals this season; fewer than any other team in England’s top four divisions. Four of those five goals have been conceded on the road, with the Saints managing just one clean sheet in four games away from St Mary’s.

    No-one has dropped more points from leading positions this season than Hull (8 – level with Swansea).

    Leicester v West Brom (1500)

    An intriguing contest between two teams seemingly heading in different directions. Leicester and their fox in the box, Leonardo Ulloa, hit the ground running while they were early calls for Alan Irvine's head at the Hawthorns but the former Everton man has gradually turned things around in the West Midlands. The Baggies have won away at Spurs and drawn with Manchester United while also thrashing Burnley and there won't be too many tears shed at their Capital One Cup defeat at Bournemouth although it does put the spotlight on the depth of the squad. In contrast, Leicester haven't won in four since beating United and have failed to find the net in three of those games with the only goals coming against Burnley which doesn't bode well coming into a fixture against a side that they have only beaten once across their last nine games. There is still a question mark against Albion's away form and Nigel Pearson will have his team fired up for a game that he will have marked down as an essential opportunity to pick up points. There's enough experience and quality in the Leicester ranks to claim all three but the manner in which they conceded against Swansea is a real concern, especially with Saido Berahino in blistering form. It could certainly be argued that the better value lies with West Brom whether that be in the outright market or draw-no-bet but there are more clear-cut oportunities elsewhere.

    Verdict: Leicester 1 West Brom 1 (IO)
    Leicester and West Brom to draw is 12/5

    Opta facts:

    No side has conceded the first goal in more games this season than Leicester City (7; level with Newcastle and QPR).

    Leonardo Ulloa has attempted 10 of Leicester’s 59 shots (excl. blocked) so far this season. However, the striker hasn’t managed a single one in his last four league appearances.

    The Baggies have won just one of their last seven away trips in the Premier League (D1 L5); with that win coming in September against Tottenham (1-0).

    WBA have scored just four goals in their last nine away games in the league, firing blanks in five of these games.

    Saido Berahino is the top scoring English player in the Premier League this season (seven goals) and he has scored in West Brom’s last four Premier League matches.

    Stoke v West Ham (1500)

    Again the layers have gone too short here, but this time they do so about the team not firing on all cylinders. With just three home league goals and defeats to Aston Villa and Leicester at the Britannia so far - not to mention a midweek loss to Southampton in the Capital One Cup - the Potters are being priced up on their strong home reputation rather than current form. That could perhaps be justified if the level of opposition were so-so but this West Ham side is flying right now and they look a spot of value. Nine goals in four away games is a far cry from last season and shows how Sam Allardyce has reshaped the side with his summer signings. Diafra Sakho has scored in seven successive games - a club record - while Enner Valencia has also added pace to the side and it would be no surprise to see him take over the goal mantle when Sakho suffers an inevitable dip. Stewart Downing's more central role has already been mentioned on these pages this season, as has Alex Song who will likely relish a tough-tackling midfield battle. West Ham arrive on the back of three successive wins, including a victory over Manchester City on Saturday. They've had the week off since that 2-1 success whereas Stoke were engaged in a tough fight on Wednesday night, a game which saw Peter Crouch sent off. He's featured in every Stoke game this season but won't be available here.. All in all, West Ham look worthy of support, it's simply a case of which market. Some may want the safety net of the draw-no-bet proviso (West Ham are 11/8 shots) but I'm happy to take them to simply win the game given their form. They are 9/4 to do so, a price which could well reward their backers.

    Verdict: Stoke 1 West Ham 2 (AS)
    Back West Ham to beat Stoke at 11/5

    Opta facts:

    West Ham have now scored in eight successive Premier League games; their best run in the competition since November 2009 (10 games).

    Diafra Sakho became only the second player in Premier League history to score in his first six starts in the competition (after Mick Quinn). No-one has ever scored in their first seven.

    Stoke have allowed their opponents fewer shots on target than any other side in the Premier League (22).

    Just six goals have been scored at the Britannia Stadium so far this season, fewer than any other Premier League ground.