Jose Mourinho's side are a strong fancy in a Premier League weekend round-up preview.
Chelsea v Norwich
Chelsea’s poor run is not simply a result of bad luck. They’ve just been playing poorly for most of 2015. However, despite losing at Stoke they looked more dangerous than for much of the season and Norwich could be the perfect opponents to help them out of their slump. Furthermore, they’re an excellent price; the last time Chelsea were this big to win at home against a promoted team was in the pre-Abramovich era, when they thrashed Man City 5-0 in 2003. Norwich have kept just one clean sheet all season and were beaten 6-2 by Newcastle not long ago. In the past five season top-half finishers have won 75% of 149 home games against promoted teams, so if Chelsea can put in even a half-decent performance they should be far too strong.
Everton v Aston Villa
Remi Garde picked up a bonus point against Man City in his opening game but a backs-against-the-wall effort with no shortage of luck is hardly enough to suggest they’re about to start climbing the table. Villa have lost 14 of their last 17 away games, have not won anywhere since the opening day, and have scored just twice in their last five matches. Furthermore, their most promising attacks against City came from left-back Jordan Amavi and he now looks set to miss the rest of the season with a cruciate injury. Everton are an improving side, with Barkley and Lukaku in better form than last season and joined by the dangerous Deulofeu in attack. Their home record against bottom half finishers last season and teams currently in the bottom half this is a decent W7-D5-L1 with all their wins coming after a half-time lead. Eight of those 12 games had at least three goals and given the Toffees could easily cover that on their own we wouldn’t put anyone off the goals market, but we prefer the HT/FT.
Newcastle v Leicester
All eyes will be on whether Jamie Vardy can match Ruud van Nistelrooy’s record of scoring in 10 consecutive Premier League games. However, Newcastle have lost only twice in their last six games – one of which was at Man City – so this trip to St James’ is likely to be harder than the table suggests. The win at Bournemouth may have featured a fair amount of luck but it should improve the atmosphere in Newcastle’s camp as it lifted them out of the bottom three and in fairness they got less than they deserved in their home draw with Stoke prior to that. Over 2.5 Goals has landed in four of Newcastle’s six home games and in five of Leicester’s six on the road. While we expect goals the price is fairly short and it may pay to look at who will score first. Leicester have lost only four of their last 15 away games but have conceded the opener a massive 11 times.
Southampton v Stoke
Southampton have won only one of their six meetings with Stoke since being promoted, with four draws, and they look far too short here. Stoke’s only away defeat this season has come at Arsenal and they’ve kept four clean sheets in their last five matches while the return to full fitness of Ryan Shawcross is a major bonus. 13 of Stoke’s last 17 away matches have had fewer than three goals as have all of their last eight trips to middle-third teams. Southampton’s attack certainly look in good shape right now with Tadic, Mane and Pelle all in excellent form but their last three games have all had fewer than three strikes as they’ve conceded only once and we could be in for a tight scrap.
Swansea v Bournemouth
We say it every week but Bournemouth are again being overrated. Their best players are all injured and they’ve picked up one point from their last six games while scoring only four goals. Furthermore, they’ve suffered five Loss/Loss doubles in their six away matches this season. Swansea are unbeaten at home against promoted teams since 2012/13, including winning all three matches to nil last season. In fact, last term they won six of their home games against the bottom eight, including five wins to nil and the recent defeat to Stoke was their first home loss to any side from below last season’s top seven. Elphick, Wilson and Gradel’s continued absence for the Cherries means we like Garry Monk’s men to end their slump with a home win to nil.
West Brom v Arsenal
West Brom have picked up just one point from their last eight matches against Arsenal and given the Gunners reputation as flat-track bullies in recent season that is perhaps not a surprise. Tony Pulis tends to be very effective at setting sides up to nick points against the bigger teams but that hasn’t been the case this season as they’ve taken only one point from six games against the current top half. They’ve lost the second half in five of those matches as chasing the ball has taken its toll – no side has had less possession this season – and given Arsenal have an excellent second-half record which has resulted in four Draw/Win doubles in their six away games this term the HT/FT market looks to offer some decent value. Furthermore, that has been the result in this fixture in half the last four seasons.