Chelsea vs Newcastle United
English Premier League. Kick-off: 5.30pm, Saturday 12th December. Live on BT Sport 1/BT Sport 4K UHD
THE early-season optimism surrounding Maurizio Sarri's Chelsea revolution has been slowly ebbing away during a bleak midwinter.
Having started the season playing with such style and verve, the goals have dried up for the Blues and the fans are starting to get a bit restless.
Grumbles from the stand were loudest in Chelsea's last home league game, a dismal 0-0 draw with Southampton where Sarri's side played possession football without posing any kind of threat.
That result shocked a few people but their lack of punch up front had been evident well before that, with Leicester winning 1-0 at Stamford Bridge during the festive period and Chelsea scraping 1-0 wins over Bournemouth and Crystal Palace.
Things improved a little last weekend in the FA Cup, with Alvaro Morata netting twice in the 2-0 win over Nottingham Forest to boost the fragile confidence of both the Italian striker and his team in general.
But Morata is a doubt for the visit of Newcastle with a hamstring injury and Chelsea could find it hard going once more against a Magpies side set up to stifle under the pragmatic Rafa Benitez.
The one consolation for Chelsea is that Newcastle find themselves in an even bigger rut, having gone five games without a win since edging out Huddersfield 1-0.
They've netted just twice in that run so it could pay to back a lack of goalmouth action here, unless Chelsea suddenly spark back to life.
Under 2.5 goals looks great value at 6/5 with 888 Sport and the odds stretch to 18/5 if you think there will be one goal or less. If you can't see anyone scoring in a repeat of that borefest with Southampton, then 888 offer odds of 13/1 on a 0-0.
I'd also be tempted to back against a goal being scored in both halves and you can get that at 5/4 with 888 Sport.
After their dismal run, Newcastle are a whopping 15/1 with 888 Sport to heap more misery on Sarri's side, with the draw 27/5 and Chelsea 11/50 red-hot favourites.
The Blues aren't worth backing at that price but tipping them to win after a level first half increases the odds to a far more attractive 3/1.
Newcastle are battling for their lives at the bottom so this game could get a bit tasty. I fancy a few bookings and 888 Sport offer an excellent 17/10 on over 3.5 cards.
If we do get a goal it's likely to come from Eden Hazard but the Belgian is just 29/10 for first scorer and 17/20 to find the net at anytime. The Chelsea star's odds for an assist are more attractive so it may pay to back him at 11/5 in that market with 888 Sport.
- Under 2.5 goals 6/5 (888 Sport)
- Over 3.5 cards 17/10 (888 Sport)
- Eden Hazard assist 11/5 (888 Sport)