TOP TIPS! – A few weeks ago this fixture looked nailed on to be a clash of the top two – top three maybe because of Liverpool’s fine start – but City head to Stamford Bridge this weekend a whopping ten points clear of the King’s Road Blues.
Two defeats in their last three Premier League games – the most recent being the shock 2-1 defeat by Wolves at Molineux in midweek – have seen them lose ground on City at a time when they needed to be exerting pressure. And after just 15 games the league table has an ominous look to it if you’re a Chelsea fan, especially when you consider Maurizio Sarri’s record-breaking first 12 games in charge.
Three of Chelsea’s six league titles have come in their first season under a new manager, so to go 12 unbeaten from the start of the season understandably had the Bridge faithful dreaming big again. But, while it’s too early to say the wheels have fallen off, a defeat by City would make it three defeats in four and a 13-point gap.
City meanwhile look unstoppable and despite a late, spirited rally by Watford at Vicarage Road on Tuesday night, the 2-1 scoreline belied the Citizens’ dominance for long spells of the game. Liverpool, with good reason, will challenge this assertion, but after only 15 games, City already have the air of champions in waiting, and it’s going to take something very special for any Premier League team to beat them.
TOP TIP! – Chelsea & Man City to draw 1-1 @ +700 / Giroud anytime goalscorer @ +260
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If Chelsea still have genuine ambitions to push City all the way, this game feels like a must-win for them and so Sarri’s team selection will be vital; so too the way they go about nullifying the threat of Aguerro, Sterling, Silva and co.
The Blues simply have to improve in the defensive third and more of the same that saw them lose to Spurs and Wolves will leave them vulnerable to City’s fluid attack. They need David Luiz to return to the side and resurrect the partnership he had with Antonio Rudiger early in the season and for Marcos Alonso and Cesar Azpilicueta to operate as ‘old fashioned’ full-backs, whose first instinct is to defend. For them to get caught with both full-backs high up the pitch will surely spell disaster.
Chelsea also need N’Golo Kante and Jorginho to form an impenetrable shield in front of the back four, which will protect against the Silva getting space between the lines and creating havoc.
If, and it remains a big if, Chelsea can do all of the above to a satisfactory degree then there is a way the Blues can avoid defeat, but given City’s potency, we find it hard to come up with enough reasons to justify a home win.
We can however see them getting a point and, given the decent run of form Olivier Giroud is in, we can see him unsettling John Stones and co with his physical presence. So, we’re going for a 1-1 +700 with Bet365, with Giroud as anytime goalscorer +260 with 888sport.
TOP TIP! – Liverpool to win 3-1 @ +1200 / Over 3.5 goals @ +160
The weekend’s early game sees Jurgen Klopp’s Reds head to the south coast hoping, for a few hours at least, to go back to the top of the Premier League. They won both games against Bournemouth last season – by an aggregate scoreline of 7-0 incidentally – so will head into this one full of confidence.
They will also be buoyed by having won two games already in the week and having had to come from behind to eventually win 3-1 at Burnley and will feel well equipped to handle a similarly difficult task at the Vitality.
Equally, Eddie Howe’s men will also enter the game with their tails up having ended a run of four consecutive defeats with a fine 2-1 win at Huddersfield on Tuesday night. The win took the Cherries back up to seventh in the table.
For Liverpool, Sadio Mane and Andy Robertson will face late fitness tests after missing the Burnley game, with the former being particularly important to the Reds’ attacking thrust. Defender Joe Gomez, however, is unlikely to feature after coming off injured at Turf Moor.
Interestingly, despite their fine defensive form this season, Klopp’s side has kept only two clean sheets in the last eight matches on the road, so there is a goal in this for Bournemouth, who have failed to score in just one of the last 11 games.
The Cherries’ problems during their indifferent run were at the opposite end of the pitch and they have conceded in six consecutive games, so it’s fair to assume there will be goals.
Given how much this means to the Reds in their quest for the title, we don’t expect them to slip up, but we do expect them to concede and don’t rule out a repeat of the 3-1 at Turf Moor +1200 with Bet365. Also well worthy of consideration in the circumstances is over 3.5 goals +160 with 888sport.
TOP TIP! – West Ham to win 2-1 @ +900 / Chicharito as anytime goalscorer @ +190
For West Ham, their impressive 3-1 win over Cardiff in midweek came at a cost, with Marko Arnautovic – the source of five goals this season – picking up a hamstring injury that has ruled him out for a month.
But regardless, Crystal Palace arrive at the London Stadium with the Hammers on a good run, having lost just once in their last five games – that defeat being a Men v Boys type thumping by Man City, which was one to simply forget – and having picked up ten points from a possible 15.
Palace meanwhile have been on a poor run, punctuated only by a 2-0 home win over Burnley, and find themselves just three points and three places above the drop zone. They do however have a better record away from Selhurst, and so will not be phased by the short trip to Stratford.
We struggle to see past a home win here though, and despite the Hammers themselves enjoying more success away from home, we see a narrow 2-1 for a buoyant West Ham +900 with Bet365, with Javier Hernández getting on the scoresheet yet again +190 with 888sport.
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