Chelsea might be in for a tough night against a side enjoying this competition with in-form forward Quincy Promes a good bet to score, says Jamie Pacheco...
"But we should be able to do slightly better than that. Their two wins in this competition so far came by 3-0 victories as seen already and whereas that’s a bit of a stretch, 2-1 or 3-1 is perhaps less so. Of their last eight wins, six had at least three goals in the game and some of those plenty more. At 11/5 it looks a better value bet to go with the home win and over 2.5 goals than just the straight victory."
Ajax v Chelsea
Wednesday October 23, 17:55
Live on BT Sport 1
Ajax in fine fettle
Despite the loss of key players to big money summer moves, Ajax have carried on where they left off last season. It's 26 points from a possible 30 in the league to send them top of the table and have enjoyed even better results in Europe, with two 3-0 wins so far. The one at home to Lille was impressive enough but the same result away to Valencia suggests that semi-final place last year was no fluke.
Forward Quincy Promes can become only the fourth Dutch Ajax player to score in four consecutive European Cup/Champions League matches after netting in the first two. Remarkably, Klaas-Jan Huntelaar is still around at 36 and still scoring goals though he'll probably have to settle for a place on the bench here.
Lampard seeing big improvements
Things are looking pretty rosy for Frank Lampard right now. A 2-1 win over Lille in France means they're right back in it in Europe while results on the domestic front have improved a lot as well.
Where they've really improved is in defence. Just as an example, hey conceded nine in their first four league games and just three in their last four.
Lampard's policy of playing youngsters continues to pay dividends with defender Fiyako Tomori emulating the likes of Mason Mount and Tammy Abraham in getting an extended run in the team which lave led to good performances.
Hosts justified favourites
We don't get much help from Opta in terms of previous results between the two because there haven't been any. We can however note that Chelsea haven't lost any of their last eight away from home in Europe, though of course that includes a fair few matches in the slightly easier Europa League.
Ajax are 2.3811/8 and that's on the tempting side. Chelsea are getting better by the game but look a notch or two away from being as organised and comfortable in this competition as their hosts.
But we should be able to do slightly better than that. Their two wins in this competition so far came by 3-0 victories as seen already and whereas that's a bit of a stretch, 2-1 or 3-1 is perhaps less so. Of their last eight wins, six had at least three goals in the game and some of those plenty more. At 11/5 it looks a better value bet to go with the home win and over 2.5 goals than just the straight victory.
Despite what we said about an improvement in Chelsea's defence, they're hardly the finished article just yet.
Considering they've scored 16 goals in their last five matches, most of them in a 7-1 win over Grimsby admittedly, it's very likely that they should produce at least one goalscorer as well. Who to go with?
Tammy Abraham is an obvious starting point. It's nine from 13 appearances so far from him this season and he should lead the line here. 17/10 is one of those borderline prices and one we just about have to say 'no' to.
Mason Mount is 3/1 and is making a reputation for scoring those goals in and around the box that Lampard did so brilliantly throughout his career. Mount has four from 16 and might give you a decent run for your money as well. At 6/1 you can get on board with their penalty-taker Jorginho though in fairness he struggles to score from anywhere other than the spot so your chances are a bit limited in this regard.
As for Ajax players, lots of fans at Southampton will fondly remember Dusan Tadic as a skilful playmaker capable of moments of magic (alongside some pretty indifferent games as well). But they might be a little surprised to see him recreate himself as a goal-machine. He has six in the league and got two in the Champions League play-offs though he's yet to score in the competition proper. He scored a truly incredible 36 goals in all competitions last season for club and country but the Sportsbook isn't giving much away, pricing him up at just 13/8.
At a bigger price, I prefer that man Promes. He's taken a liking for this competition, scored in both games in it so far and also scored at the weekend. He may well have that record in mind as extra motivation and in a game where we think Ajax should be able to get at least two, he's a very decent 13/5 to get at least one.