THE EUROPA LEAGUE returns on Thursday night as Chelsea travel to Belorussian outfit BATE Borisov on matchday four. Gaurav Chaddah (@Gchaddahjourno) shares his betting thoughts.
BATE Borisov v Chelsea | Thursday 8th November 2018, 17:55 | BT Sport
Chelsea remain as one of only three unbeaten sides left in English football and take their 100% Europa League record to Belarus to face BATE Borisov on Thursday night.
The two teams met a fortnight ago, a night that was relatively straightforward for the Blues, who coasted to a 3-1 victory at Stamford Bridge.
It has been contrasting fortunes for BATE however, who find themselves with just three points from as many games, and after a enjoying an opening matchday victory away at Vidi, have lost their last two and up against it here.
Chelsea have developed a new dynamic under Maurizio Sarri; long gone are the days of what could be considered defensive, counter-attacking football under Jose Mourinho or more recently Antonio Conte – that has been replaced by a more attack-minded, possession-based approach.
It has taken a while, especially in Europe, with Chelsea only mustering 1-0 victories in the opening two games before putting three past BATE but the Blues have been scoring goals for fun recently, notching at least two goals in each of there last six outings.
This game should definitely deliver goals, as with Chelsea scoring plenty, BATE are also leaking regularly. Before the 3-1 defeat in London two weeks ago, the Belarusians were on the wrong end of a 4-1 hammering at home to PAOK and clearly defensively vulnerable.
Chelsea are only two points away from Manchester City domestically and showing dominance and arrogance within games, even when lacklustre. They were far from their best as they beat Crystal Palace on Sunday but still managed to put three past the South London outfit.
It is unclear who Sarri will favour up front here – Alvaro Morata has returned to much needed form but could be rested with Everton in-mind for the weekend. Olivier Giroud is yet to net so far this season, but this could be a good chance for the Frenchman to open his account.
Interestingly, Eden Hazard has travelled with the squad and any impact he has on the game could be damaging for BATE.
BATE up against it
BATE have struggled in this competition so far and face elimination should they fail to win here. PAOK were the last time to come here in the Europa League and eased to a 4-1 victory, which hardly bodes well against a team in the form of Chelsea.
It did look early on at Stamford Bridge that the reverse game could have turned into a humiliation for the Belarus champions, but Chelsea took their foot off the gas slightly and they got away with a respectable 3-1 defeat.
BATE hardly looked like troubling the Chelsea net that night and their goal came from a set-piece, something they may need to rely on again on Thursday evening.
The betting angle
I think it is clear to see that goals should be on the agenda here and very much in Chelsea’s favour. The Blues put three past BATE last time and it could have easily been more, whilst the hosts clearly have issues at the back.
Chelsea aren’t only winning games, but they are winning them with style and panache. BATE hardly seem like they can hold their own and should Sarri decide to involve Hazard then it could be a long night for the home outfit.
The visitors have won four of there last five games by more than a one-goal margin and they could enjoy the same success here. With 23/20 on offer with BetStars, Chelsea -1 handicap seems a fair play.
BATE Borisov v Chelsea – Chelsea -1 handicap (23/20 Bet Stars)