Chelsea’s chances of rediscovering the lost art of keeping clean sheets away from home have received a major fillip with the news that Hull striker Nikica Jelavic has been ruled out for six weeks ahead of their trip to the KC Stadium.
For a side whose manager trades on pragmatism, the Blues’ total of four shootouts in 17 domestic road games this term is surprisingly paltry.
Home attacks as inglorious as those of Shrewsbury, Derby County and Aston Villa have found a way past Thibaut Courtois or Petr Cech over the course of the campaign, but Hull’s chances of doing likewise have been dramatically reduced by Jelavic’s injury.
The Croatian has pouched eight Premier League goals in 2014/15 to make him comfortably their leading scorer, with four more notches on his bedpost than next-most prolific Mohamed Diame.
His importance to the chances of Steve Bruce’s side is further illustrated by the fact that a 3-1 away win against a Sunderland outfit on one of their out-to-lunch afternoons is they only victory they’ve gleaned in the ten Premier League matches they’ve started without the striker this term.
Six of those Jelavic-less outings saw them fail to find the net in his absence, including all three on Humberside, suggesting that topping up Chelsea win odds of 12/25 by affixing a to-nil caveat is a viable ploy.
The bwin layers go 11/10 about a rare shutout success for Chelsea at the KC Stadium.
Having struck three times in four starts and a couple of incursions from the bench since joining the Tigers, Senegalese hitman Dame N’Doye looks the most obvious fly in the ointment.
However, Jelavic was present alongside him as part of a front two on every occasion he has found the net for Hull.
Playing most often as a lone striker at former club Lokomotiv Moscow prior to his January move, N’Doye had bagged a more moderate four times in 15 appearances.
If he is played in a two against Chelsea he will likely be partnered by Abel Hernandez, who is without a goal in 15 appearances after scoring three in his first five games for the club.
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