MARK Stinchcombe (@MarkStinchcombe) returns to preview Monday Night Football’s clash between Stoke and Chelsea.
Stoke City v Chelsea | Monday 20.00 | Sky Sports 1
Chelsea have had superlative after superlative thrown at them this season. Up until recently the title had already been awarded to the Blues and the question was can they win it without losing a game…
Well they came crashing back down with a 2-1 defeat at Newcastle and actually go into this game level on points with Man City, with the same amount of goals scored and just one fewer conceded, albeit with this game in hand. Man City are viewed as having under achieved thus far, so perhaps Chelsea aren’t quite as good as everyone thinks?
If we look at Chelsea away from home this season, they’ve kept just three clean sheets in 13 games (two in the Champions League), including conceding against both lower league opponents in Shrewsbury and Derby, and Slovenian side Maribor.
Chelsea are generally perceived as being very good defensively. Overall they’ve conceded the fewest goals along with Southampton, but that’s mainly due to their home form at Stamford Bridge, with seven clean sheets in 12.
When trying to work out why they struggle away defensively, it may be due to Jose Mourinho having taken the shackles off somewhat. At the Bridge, most sides will come and try and keep things tight and ultimately fail in trying to nick a goal at the other end with their negative approach, but away Chelsea probably face a more of an attacking proposition.
Chelsea averaged 1.87 league goals-per-game last season in finishing third, this season it currently stands at 2.25. This is probably a combination of having better attacking options in Diego Costa and Cesc Fabregas, coupled with a more offensive approach.
If we go to the back end of last season when Chelsea needed to push for the title, they kept just three clean sheets in 11 games. In order to go from third to first, Mourinho may have identified that they could pick up key extra points away by attacking more and thus sacrificing defensively.
Stoke are a difficult team to read. They’ve won at Premier League champions Man City, beaten Arsenal at home and tasted victory at Spurs. However, they’ve also lost at home to Leicester, Burnley and Villa!
One thing that has been consistent in Stoke games is goals at both ends. In their last 14 games both teams have scored 11 times. Married with Chelsea’s away record reading of both teams scoring in 10 of their 13 games, then it’s an obvious bet tonight. I was expecting something in the region of 8/11 but in fact it’s odds against! Back both teams to score at 11/10 (Betfred).
Chelsea are 8/13 to win. That price looks short with only four wins in their eight away games as well as suffering a 3-2 defeat here last season and only once in their last four visits claiming all three points (the infamous Jon Walters day – two own goals and a missed penalty).
In fact Stoke haven’t lost any of their last six Premier League games played on a Monday night, suggesting perhaps the extra preparation time pays dividends for Mark Hughes’ men when playing in front of the Sky cameras.
However, that victory last season is Stoke’s only win in 12 meetings and coincidentally Chelsea have only lost one of their last 19 Premier League meetings on a Monday night (W11-D7- L1). So let’s take advantage of Chelsea’s overstated supremacy by backing Both Teams To Score and the game to finish as a draw at 5/1 (Betfair).
Stoke v Chelsea – Both Teams To Score (11/10 Betfred)
Stoke v Chelsea- Both Teams To Score + Draw (5/1 Betfair)