High-flying Chelsea host Championship-bound West Brom in the first of the weekend's Premier League games and Steve Rawlings fancies a low scoring affair...
"Tuchel for Lampard looks a wise move so far but Allardyce for Bilić looks a mistake - although he has at least stopped the side haemorrhaging goals."
Chelsea v West Brom
Saturday April 3, 12:30
Live on BT Sport
Chelsea unbeaten under the new boss
Frank Lampard's first season in charge of Chelsea was viewed as a success. With an 18-month transfer ban still running, Champions League qualification via a fourth-placed finish was a reasonable result but after a fortune was spent in the summer, it was never going to take long for chairman Roman Abramovich's patience to start to wane if they didn't improve.
As much as £222m was spent in the summer as eight players, including Ben Chilwell, the experienced Thiago Silva and the German pair, Timo Werner and Kai Havertz, were brought in and everything in the garden was rosy after a decent start.
The Blues lost just one of their first 11 Premier League matches, at home to the champions Liverpool, and they sat third and just two points off the lead, but Lampard's lads started to lose their way after that and when they lost five of their next eight, the writing was on the wall for the club legend.
Chelsea fell all the way down to ninth place after a 2-0 defeat at Leicester and they were matched at as high as 4.3100/30 for a Top 4 Finish and Abramovich's patience ran out. Lampard was sacked following their 3-1 win against Luton in the F.A Cup and almost immediately, the former Paris St-Germain boss Thomas Tuchel replaced him at the helm.
Tuchel's rein began with a drab 0-0 draw at home to Wolves but the Blues followed that up with a comfortable 2-0 victory over Burnley and after 14 games in charge, Chelsea are yet to lose under the German. And they've only conceded in three of those 14 matches.
It's an incredible turnaround given they hadn't played three Premier League games in-a-row without conceding under Lampard this season.
Chelsea have progressed to the last eight in the Champions League, the last four in the F.A Cup and from that high of 4.3100/30, they're now long odds-on to finish the season inside the top-four in the Premier League. Abramovich's decisive action has been vindicated so far but goal scoring is an issue.
There's nearly always a slowdown on the goals scored front when a leaky team tightens up but in Tuchels 14 games in charge to date, Chelsea are yet to score more than twice. Confidence in front of goal is short and Tino Werner's glaring miss against North Macedonia for Germany on Wednesday night won't have given him much encouragement. It was 1-1 at the time and they went on to lose 2-1.
Weak West Brom look doomed
More than a month before Lampard left Stamford Bridge, Slaven Bilić was shown the door at the Hawthorns, despite a gutsy 1-1 draw away at Manchester City, but the new gaffer, Sam Allardyce, hasn't been able to stop their demise.
West Brom have won just two of 16 Premier League matches under Allardyce and with just nine games left to play, the Baggies are ten points away from safety and trading at just 1.021/50 for the drop.
Tuchel for Lampard looks a wise move so far but Allardyce for Bilić looks a mistake - although he has at least stopped the side haemorrhaging goals...
The Baggies lost to Blackpool on penalties in the F.A Cup after a 2-2 draw and they conceded 24 goals in Allardyce's first eight Premier League games in charge, but they've let in just seven in his last eight with him at the helm. And they've conceded just two in their last five.
A low-scoring home win looks on the cards
It's very hard to see West Brom getting anything out of the game and a home win looks as likely as the short odds imply but given how short the Blues are (around 1.251/4), the value appears to sit in the side markets.
Given each of the last six Premier League games involving Chelsea have seen less than three goals scored, and that no more than two goals have been scored in each of West Brom's last seven, odds-against about Under in the Over/Under 2.5 Goals market looks very fair.
The reverse fixture ended in a 3-3 draw back in September but the goals have dried up significantly in the Premier League since that heady first month of this bizarre fans-free season.
September saw an average of 3.68 goals per game but it didn't last and month-by month the averages have come down. March's average was just 2.24 goals per game - another reason to take the odds-against about Under 2.5 - but I've been a bit greedier and played the Correct Score market.
Given Chelsea have conceded just twice in ten Premier League games under Tuchel (and one of those was own goal), that they're yet to score more than twice in a game under the German, and that West Brom have failed to find the net in five of their last seven games, backing 1-0 and 2-0 to Chelsea makes a lot of sense.
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