Back Chelsea to win by a whisker and
cling on to favourites' tails
Odds compilers have been keeping
Chelsea's price to win the title relatively short because Avram Grant's team
still have to play Arsenal, Manchester United and Liverpool at Stamford Bridge.
While the destination of the title is to some extent in their hands because of
the lop-sided fixture list, Chelsea will be under extreme pressure to win those
games, the first of which comes against Liverpool on Sunday.
could be of great significance to the outright-title market. Paddy Power have
indicated that Chelsea would earn a double-figure quote for the title for the
first time this season if they failed to win and the current top two in the
Premier League - Arsenal and United - each gained three points this weekend. As
it is, Chelsea are 11-2 (general) to win the league behind United at 4-5
(general), with Arsenal 15-8 (Boyle Sports).
So for the bookmakers a win is a must for
Chelsea this Sunday if they are to remain in the race. Liverpool's chance has
already gone. Rafael Benítez's side were quoted at a triple-figure price
some weeks ago and even a win this weekend would not alter their odds enough to
worry backers of the two market principals. A defeat would certainly alter the
prices in the to-finish-in-the-top-four market. Liverpool are an incredibly
short-looking 8-15 (Bet365) with Everton 7-2 (Bet365) and Aston Villa 8-1 (Sky
Chelsea are 21-20 (VC Bet) to win on Sunday with Liverpool 7-2
(Paddy Power) and the draw 9-4 (general).
Firms offering evens or
better about Chelsea will see plenty of business. The Blues have suffered
defeat only once (away at Arsenal) in 30 matches since losing at Old Trafford
in Grant's first game in charge. It is hard to believe that the layers were
offering 4-7 about the Israeli failing to last the season as Chelsea manager
after that 2-0 defeat. Whether the expansive football Roman Abramovich was
looking for has come with that run is open to debate. It has not gone unnoticed
in punting circles that 11 of Chelsea's last 14 victories have come by a
single-goal margin. Bet365's handicap market, which gives Liverpool a goal
start, offers the draw at 11-4, seemingly a fair price (effectively you are
backing Chelsea to win by one goal).
Layers are accustomed to
low-scoring games between these two teams with most offering alternatives to
the usual under-or-over-2½-goals market. Only three of the past 18
meetings have produced more than two goals in 90 minutes. Most firms offer 4-7
about fewer than three goals in the game with 5-4 available that there will be
more than two. It may be a short price but the statistics suggest 4-7 is a
value play. Sporting Index's total goals quote is 2.2-2.4.
(Paddy Power) about Chelsea keeping a clean sheet is also attractive. Under
Grant, the Blues have achieved 20 in 31 matches, including a 2-0 home win over
Liverpool in the Carling Cup, with the central defensive pairing of Ricardo
Carvalho and Alex looking solid in recent months. And with Fernando Torres
struggling with injury - the Spaniard limped out of his national team's 1-0 win
over France on Wednesday with a hamstring strain - Liverpool's goal threat
could be much diminished. Although having said that, punters have latched on to
the fact that 10 of his 12 league goals this term have come at Anfield. Torres
is 15-2 (Sky Bet and Sporting Odds) to score the first goal at Stamford Bridge.
Chelsea's Nicolas Anelka is the 5-1 (Totesport) favourite in the
first-player-to-score market. The former Liverpool striker has hit the opener
in two of Chelsea's last three games and can boast four goals in nine starts
against his former employers.
Correct-score punters should look no
further than 1-0 to the home team, freely available at 6-1, as seven of the
last 16 meetings between the pair have ended with the hosts securing success
via a solitary goal.