Saturday afternoon sees Newcastle United welcome Chelsea to Tyneside with the home side having regained a sense of optimism regarding the second half of their season.
When Newcastle last played at St James’ Park, on January 19th, their campaign was in the midst of a meltdown as they threw away a 1-0 lead to lose against fellow strugglers Reading.
Nearly two weeks on and the doom and gloom seems forgotten as a raft of French imports have arrived to strengthen their threadbare squad and three points were earned in a crucial 2-1 win over another relegation threatened side, Aston Villa, on Tuesday (as we correctly predicted here).
That victory moved Alan Pardew’s side four points clear of the dreaded bottom three and with the likes of Moussa Sissoko and Yoann Gouffran added to the ranks, Yohan Cabaye fit again and Papiss Cisse back scoring goals, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see them move further away as the months progress.
The home game with Chelsea represents their first chance of doing just that, but they will start the contest as 11/4 second favourites for victory and 13/5 to gain a draw, but this seems fair considering they haven’t won at home to the Londoners since 2006.
Rafael Benitez’s men, who won the reverse fixture at Stamford Bridge 2-0 in August, are a short 9/10 in bwin’s 3-way betting market thanks to the second-best away record in the division that has seen them pick up 24 points on the road.
The Blues’ superb away form took a knock on Wednesday night as they saw a 2-0 lead disappear in the final three minutes of their game against Reading after Adam Le Fondre rescued a point for the Royals with a brace (another outcome we gave you, in case you were wondering).
The draw must surely be seen as a missed opportunity to close the gap on second-placed Manchester City, who also drew in midweek at QPR, and it also widens the gap between themselves and leaders Manchester United.
With this test arriving on the back of two further draws in cup competitions, Chelsea may not be bursting with confidence as they head north, so they will want to start brightly and take advantage of their opponents’ shocking record in the second half of games.
Newcastle have conceded a whopping 28 times after the half-time oranges, compared to half that number prior to the interval, and nearly threw away their two-goal advantage over Aston Villa as they grew tired later in the game.
Bwin has the visiting side at 11/10 to get the better of the second 45 minutes and 4/1 to earn a win after drawing at the interval.
However, Chelsea themselves have had trouble holding on to leads lately because as well as Reading, Southampton have also recovered from two goals down to draw against the Blues in January. As a result, odds of 13/20 on both teams to score are understandably short.
The most likely route for Newcastle to pull off a shock result will be getting a strong start and forcing their opponents to do the chasing with a lead at half-time and bwin is offering 7/2 on the Magpies to lead at the break and 23/10 on them striking first in the opening 45 minutes.
So there are plenty of potential routes into this clash from a betting perspective, but considering all the information at hand, a huge price of 13/1 on Newcastle to lead at half-time and Chelsea to fight back for the draw must surely be worth a small play.
New customers can claim a free £20 bet when registering with bwin and placing this on Newcastle/Draw in the half-time/full-time market would return an impressive £280 if successful.