Ajax vs ChelseaUEFA Champions League, KO: 17:25 Oct 23, 2019, Johan Cruijff ArenA
Despite long and varied histories in European competitions, Wednesday's clash at the Johan Cruijff ArenA in Amsterdam will be the first meeting between Ajax and Chelsea.
Chelsea have fond memories of the stadium in Amsterdam however, having lifted the 2013 UEFA Cup there – a match in which gaffer Frank Lampard captained the side – and they'll be aiming to their eight match unbeaten (W6 D2) run away from home in Europe.
We all know about Ajax's amazing exploits in the competition last season and as yet they've not shown any signs that reaching the semi-final was a one-off. Erik ten Hag's men have started the season in impressive fashion and a win on Wednesday night would see them put one foot in the knock-out stages of the competition after just three matches.
They lost just two of their 18 European matches in 2018/19 (W10 D6) and are already six unbeaten in the Champions League this season (W4 D2) so the task facing Chelsea in the Netherlands looks greater than the 2/1 odds on offer.
Chelsea's Flawed Form
Chelsea's fourth place in the Premier League looks reasonably impressive; their 17 points from a possible 27 sees them just two points behind 2nd place Manchester City but some perspective is provided upon closer inspection.
All five league wins have come against teams in bottom half of the table (Wolves being the highest in 13th). Two draws have come against Leicester (3rd) and Sheffield United (9th) whilst their two defeats have been at the hands of league leaders Liverpool and Manchester United. Against the latter they were caught cold somewhat on the first weekend of the season, but United's form since then does Chelsea little favours – they've yet to score more than a single goal against any other team since.
Defeat to Valencia on Matchday 1 was a bit of a wake-up call but they recovered to win in Lille by two goals to one. However, the Blues have only kept two clean sheets in 12 which suggests Ajax's free-scoring side could have some success against the joint-fourth most porous defence in the Premier League.
The Dutch are averaging three goals per game in Eredivisie, where they sit atop of the table with eight wins from ten. They've maintained that scoring form in their two Champions League group matches to date also, with impressive 3-0 wins over Valencia and Lille in their opening two matches in Group H.
Worryingly for Frank Lampard side five different scorers have scored in those two wins so goals could come from any angle.
Quincy Promes has scored in both and the Dutch internationalist is 13/5 (Betfair) to make it three in a row. Dusan Tadic is the most likely penalty taker and is 6/4 to net. Tammy Abraham leads the scoring charts for Chelsea and he's around the 5/4 mark to get on the scoresheet.
Stick to the Stats
In terms of betting, there's still plenty of quality in the Chelsea squad but I can't see past Ajax's record last season, and how well they've performed to date this campaign. Holes can be found in Chelsea's form if you're looking for them and so odds about 11/8 on the home win look attractive enough to get involved.
Chelsea's defensive record is also a worry and Ajax look more than capable of exploiting them so a side bet on the Dutch to score two or more looks reasonbly price at 9/10 with Sportingbet.
I'm less keen on a goalscorer, simply due to there already being a number of different players to have scored for Ajax. As well as two goals in the Champions League, Promes has six in the league so far and has a better scoring rate than Tadic so if you're looking for something bigger then he looks best value at 8/1 Boylesports to score first or the 13/5 anytime at Betfair.
This UEFA Champions League match between Ajax and Chelsea will be played on Oct 23, 2019 and kick off at 17:25