The Roberto di Matteo era is up and running following a 2-0 success over Birmingham in the FA Cup, but while extremely welcome, the win should perhaps not be seen as the herald of a bright new dawn.
For a start, it was achieved against Championship opposition and was arguably not as comfortable as the scoreline suggests.
A problem which has cost Chelsea in recent games was also in evidence – namely an inability to get on top in the early stages of games.
Only twice in the last 18 matches have the Blues been ahead at half time, with their last three fixtures – against Bolton (h), West Brom (a) and Birmingham (a) – finishing 0-0 after the first 45 minutes.
The good news for Chelsea is that they have scored more goals in the second half than they have in the first in five of their last seven home games.
Chelsea have also gone five domestic games without scoring a goal in the opening period, and given Stoke have scored just four first half league goals in their 13 away matches this season, fans at the Bridge on Saturday could be forgiven for taking a book with them to read during the early stages.
If they’re not the literary type, then perhaps a bet on the game to be 0-0 at half time might be a better option, particularly given the odds of 11/5.
At this price, a successful £25 free bet on a goalless first half will see punters win £80, with the free bet available to new customers who sign up for a bwin account.
The good news for Chelsea is that they have scored more goals in the second half than they have in the first in five of their last seven home games and have yet to draw a blank at Stamford Bridge in the Premier League this season.
This suggests that the Blues can go on to secure all three points even if they are drawing 0-0 with Stoke at half time.
Odds of 13/10 are available on the Blues scoring more goals after the interval than they do before the break, while a draw/Chelsea win at half time/full time is priced at 16/5.
Either way, Stoke’s away record does not inspire confidence in their chances of pulling off a draw (17/5) or win (15/2).
Instead, Stoke’s seven away losses in 13 games points towards a Chelsea success at 19/50 in bwin’s 3Way football betting market – even if the Blues are struggling themselves, particularly in the opening 45 minutes.
Recommended bet: 0-0 at half time @11/5.
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