Sunderland v Chelsea
The Black Cats went into Saturday's game against Swansea with their tails up, having won three of their last four Premier League games. But the afternoon would end in disappointment for David Moyes and his charges: Sunderland rarely found their rhythm and slumped to a 3-0 defeat that leaves them bottom of the table once more.
Was that result only a blip, or was Sunderland's upward trajectory prior to the Swansea game merely down to a kind sequence of fixtures? Only time will tell, but we're unlikely to get too clear a picture on Wednesday night, when they host the division's form side. The Wearsiders have yet to take a point off any of the teams currently in the top five and could find the going tough against Chelsea.
Stirring victories against putative title challengers Tottenham and Manchester City lifted Antonio Conte's men to the top of the standings, but they had to be patient to find a way past a sturdy West Brom side at the weekend. The Baggies set up to frustrate their hosts and very nearly escaped Stamford Bridge with a point, only for Diego Costa to conjure up a stunning winner late in the day.
If the ability to win games even when not firing on all cylinders is the mark of a champion, Chelsea would seem to be heading in the right direction. Sunday's win had echoes of the narrow victory over Middlesbrough three weeks earlier, and even of the early-season wins over Watford and West Ham. All were secured by Costa strikes.
Now, they head to Sunderland looking to end a run of three games without a win at the Stadium of Light. With their winning league run now up to nine matches, it would take a brave punter to oppose them.
Chelsea are understandable favourites to win this one and can be backed at 1.364/11, with the draw at 5.79/2 and the home victory a massive 11.010/1.
We like the look of the away win, but to bump up the odds, consider backing Chelsea in the Win To Nil market. Sunderland may have scored in their last five home games, but the Blues' defence is far sturdier than most and kept three away clean sheets in a row before Gary Cahill's own goal at the Etihad. 2.1511/10 is a fair price.
Sunderland's last three matches have been goalless at the interval, while Chelsea's last four goals (all three against Man City and the winner against West Brom) have come in the second half. If you think the Black Cats can keep things tight early on, Draw/Chelsea could provide some value at 4.77/2.
Over/Under 2.5 Goals
This fixture has tended to produce goals over the years: 111 have been scored in 30 Premier League meetings between the sides, at an average of 3.7 per game. Nine of Sunderland's 15 league games (and six of seven at home) have gone over the 2.5-goal line, as have 11 of Chelsea's 15.
It's no surprise to see the overs at 1.635/8, then, but it's a bet we're going to steer clear of based on Chelsea's defensive frugality and the likelihood that the Black Cats will try to stay in the game as long as possible.
Jermain Defoe has scored against Chelsea with four different Premier League clubs - he is the only man to have done so - and will, as ever, be key to Sunderland's hopes of getting a result. Odds of 13/5 on the Sportsbook tempt for such a prodigious finisher.
For Chelsea, Costa is the main man in attacking areas. Having cut out the disciplinary issues that marred his campaign in 2015/16, the Spain international looks focused and has been in brilliant form, scoring or assisting in 13 of 15 Premier League games to date. He can be backed at 13/5 to net the first goal.
Back Chelsea to win to nil at 2.166/5