I’ve been taking a long look at the odds that bwin have posted up for West Brom versus Chelsea at the Hawthorns and one question keeps popping into my head.
Who in their right mind is going to back Chelsea at odds on?
The Blues have been priced up as 87/100 favourites to beat the Baggies and while there can be no argument about that when looking at the gulf in talent between the two squads, that quote seemingly ignores everything that is going on Stamford Bridge.
With Chelsea manager Andre Villas-Boas clearly lacking the backing of the most experienced players in the dressing room, performances have been erratic and results even worse.
Sitting fifth in the Premier League and behind 3-1 to Napoli in the Champions League last 16 is not the season owner Roman Abramovich had in mind when paying Porto £13million for the Portuguese’s services.
And with AVB admitting for the first time this week he fears the sack from the trigger-happy Russian (that was the sound of the penny dropping), Chelsea are in a mess.
Villas-Boas has made clear mistakes and has alienated big names he obviously wants shot of but the most egotistical dressing room in recent memory has to take a share of the blame: someone should tell Frank Lampard what is good enough for Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes is good enough for him.
Against this backdrop I can’t back Chelsea to beat anyone, especially not at odds on. West Brom are 31/10 to compound the misery for Villas-Boas by winning the three points, with the draw quoted at 12/5 – and in truth, both prices tempt me more than those next to Chelsea’s name.
Villas-Boas has made clear mistakes and has alienated big names but the most egotistical dressing room in recent memory has to take a share of the blame: someone should tell Frank Lampard what is good enough for Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes is good enough for him.
Chelsea have won only one of their last six fixtures – last weekend’s victory over Bolton – and have picked up maximum points in just one of their last six away games in the Premier League.
That run of fixtures was not against stellar opposition – the Blues were held at Wigan, Norwich and Swansea and beaten at Everton – and all in all, it is just five wins from the last 15 matches in all competitions for Villas-Boas.
It is not the sort of form you’d expect from an 87/100 shot. What stops me from opposing Chelsea big-time is their record against West Brom – 18 wins and two draws from their last 20 meetings – and the Baggies’ poor home record this year.
A 4-0 thumping of Sunderland last weekend brought to an end a dreadful run of results at the Hawthorns for Roy Hodgson’s men, who in their previous 12 home games had lost eight and scored a measly nine goals.
But having followed up their 5-1 Black Country derby triumph at Wolves with that win over the Black Cats, West Brom are among the goals.
They are now safe in 13th on 32 points (Hodgson’s methods will take any group of players to 13th, which is why he got the boot from Liverpool) and they could maybe play with a bit more confidence at home, unshackled from the pressure for points.
The Baggies are in pretty good form, winning three of their last six in the league, and with Hodgson’s safety-first approach likely to make things difficult for a Chelsea side who have scored just five goals in their last six away league trips, the 12/5 that the points are shared is the way I am going to play it.
Chelsea have drawn five times on the road already this season and have only scored 17 in 13 trips – eight teams have hit the net more often.
Yet the Blues have only lost three league games on their travels – the aforementioned defeat at Everton, against Manchester United and unluckily with nine men against QPR – and in what is sure to be a tight match I’d rather be on the draw at 12/5 than Chelsea at 87/100.
Recommended bet: West Brom and Chelsea to draw @ 12/5
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