Chelsea vs AjaxUEFA Champions League, KO: 20:00 Nov 5, 2019, Stamford Bridge
WITH both sides on six points after three matches it's all to play for at Stamford Bridge on Tuesday night and while neither side can secure a place in the last 16, a win would give either Chelsea or Ajax a foot in the knock-out stages.
Chelsea caused a minor surprise when the sides met two weeks ago in Amsterdam, Michy Batshuayi scoring the only goal of the game four minutes from time at the Johan Cruijff ArenA. Hands-up, I thought Ajax would win that one but the Blues outfoxed Erik ten Hag's side on their own turf and they'll be trying to do it again on Tuesday.
Ajax continue to set the pace in Holland, they're six points clear at the top of Eredivisie and remain unbeaten after 12 matches. In fact that 1-0 loss to Chelsea has been the only bump in the road of their season so far. Most impressive was their 3-0 at Valencia on Matchday Two, a match in which they had fewer shots, corners, passes and less possession than their opponents, so perhaps a counter-attacking style will suit them against better opposition.
The general consensus was that Ajax were sloppy in their defeat to Chelsea, but that's perhaps unfair on Frank Lampard's young Blues who were hailed as ‘coming of age' in the tabloid reports.
In fact, Lampard has made a very impressive start to his Chelsea stewardship. A transfer ban has forced him to turn the club's crop of youngsters and they've seldom disappointing their gaffer this season. Pulisic (21) and Abraham (22) have impressed while Batshuayi has weighed in with some important goals, none more so than the late winner in Amsterdam.
The Blues are just two points off second-place Man City and on the same tally as Leicester City, who are being mentioned as potential title contenders in some quarters. From a pre-season in which expectations were fairly low, optimism is starting to rise at the Bridge and a win on Tuesday, which would see Chelsea at least two points clear in Group H, would bolster belief that Lampard is laying the foundations for future success in south west London.
Both teams to score is priced at just 8/15 and Over 2.5 goals is as short as 11/20 in places, which I cannot fathom. We were just 4 mins, plus added time, away from a 0-0 result two weeks ago, two of Chelsea's three group matches have seen just one goal and none of Ajax's three matches in Group H have featured both teams scoring. For their great start to the season, Chelsea haven't been very prolific at Stamford Bridge, scoring just seven in five home league matches, so I'm going to go against the grain and seek out some bets that focus on there being fewer goals than expected.
As well as focusing on each sides attacking options, it's worth noting that Chelsea have conceded just five at home in the league, whicle Ajax have let in just nine in their opening 12. Batshuayi's goal in Amsterdam is the only one conceded in three group stage matches.
A goalless first half is very tempting at 5/2. These appear to be two evenly matched teams, and there's a decent argument that a draw would suit both so I can't see either being gung-ho in their approach. That could make for a cagey opening period.
Alternatively, no goal before 25 mins at 5/6 (Bet365) also appeals. It's a toss of coin between Under 2.5 goals at 29/20 (Paddy Power) and No to Both Teams to Score at 13/8 (BetVictor) but I'll opt for the former.
This UEFA Champions League match between Chelsea and Ajax will be played on Nov 5, 2019 and kick off at 20:00