The stats all point to a Chelsea home win against Leicester on Saturday afternoon but this could be a lot tighter than the odds suggest so bet accordingly, says Jamie Pacheco...
"Given their attack isn’t exactly firing with Alvaro Morata being particularly wasteful and perhaps suffering from a certain lack of confidence, this could be a tight win."
Chelsea v Leicester
Saturday January 13 15:00
Barkley in but out for this one
Antonio Conte will be really annoyed after conceding in injury time against Arsenal last week. It's very 'un-Conte' to concede a somewhat sloppy late goal like that. But he'd be well-advised to not enter into pointless and energy-sapping feuds with Jose Mourinho. Let the Manchester United Manager mouth off as much as he likes. The best way to shut that busy mouth is to finish higher than him in the league or knock him out of the FA CUP or Champions League if they were to be drawn together.
There's been plenty of talk about Ross Barkley's transfer to Chelsea this week. I think it's a good deal. Not just because he ended up being much cheaper than he would have been in August (and wouldn't have played anyway) but because he has different characteristics to anyone else in the squad. He can be the more attacking member of a midfield three, play as a wide forward or feature in-the-hole like Eden Hazard has been playing sometimes, just behind the main striker. He could also bring a goal threat into the equation given that none of N'Golo Kante, Tiemoue Bakayoko, Cesc Fabregas, Danny Drinkwater or even Pedro are exactly prolific. But he' still not ready to play just yet.
Everyone else is pretty much available.
Injuries will concern Claude Puel
Leicester may have had almost 60% possession against Fleetwood Town in the FA Cup last weekend but it will be of some concern to Claude Puel that the underdogs had four shots on target to Leicester's nought.
Jamie Vardy didn't feature against his old club in that one but looks fit to play here. He's not always easy on the eye but they never look quite the same side without him.
One man who's a better player than his numbers (and number of appearances) suggest, it's Islam Slimani. Yes, he hasn't settled and made the most of his chances at Leicester but as a strong, quick, old-fashioned number nine who's excellent in the air and good on one-on-ones with the keeper, this league should really suit him.
Elsewhere, regular starters in defence Wes Morgan and Danny Simpson both miss out through injury.
Leicester would have to really upset the formbook if they were to win this one. Opta tell us they have won just one of their last 11 encounters against Chelsea in the Premier League. If you're a Leicester fan you won't be surprised to hear that because you'll also know that any sort of away win against a 'Big Six' Premier League side is not a common occurrence; they haven't won any of their last 12 aginst the league's big boys when on the road. So give that [12.0] a miss.
But Chelsea aren't exactly screaming to be backed at [1.32] on the match odds market, either. After all, they've drawn their last three games with a lackluster 0-0 at home to Arsenal in the EFL Cup on Wednesday night the latest of those. Yes, they should win despite that but we can find better bets than that one.
Conte won't be best pleased about his side's failure to score against Norwich and Arsenal in the last week but at least their defence has held strong. They've kept clean sheets in five of their last six games in all competitions and have won each of their last seven home games in the league, keeping clean sheets in five of them.
Given their attack isn't exactly firing with Alvaro Morata being particularly wasteful and perhaps suffering from a certain lack of confidence, this could be a tight win. It makes sense to back them to win with just one or two goals in the match at 11/4 on Betfair Sportsbook.
Jamie Vardy has a surprisingly good record against Big Six sides, scoring 22 goals in 41 appearances since August 2014. That's more than anyone else. But we still don't know if he'll feature and we like Chelsea to keep a clean sheet anyway. But he's 11/4 if you fancy it.
I certainly wouldn't be backing Morata at odds-on (4/6) and Eden Hazard is short enough at 10/11, too. So it could pay to go with someone like Antonio Rudiger at 17/2 or Cesar Azpilicueta at 12/1. They've both scored already this season and this could be the sort of match decided by a set-piece.