Chris Bryant chairs a clash between Harry Boulton and Josh Bloom, who are arguing the respective cases for QPR and Chelsea ahead of this afternoon’s west London derby.
CB: OK guys, put your cards on the table straight away – who’s going to win this one? Surely it’s three easy points for Chelsea?
HB: Although Chelsea will go into the match as favourites, I think QPR will put in a decent performance here and come away with at least a point for their efforts. So far this season, Rangers have been impressive at home and their only loss at Loftus Road came on the opening day. They may not be the most dangerous or ambitious side, but with the home crowd behind them and the ability to create chances, they could match Chelsea and frustrate them.
JB: Chelsea finally seem to have clicked under Andre Villas-Boas after a slightly unsteady start and the goals have been coming thick and fast recently. 5-0 against Genk, 3-1 against Everton and 5-1 against Bolton… 13 in three games is pretty impressive. Travelling to QPR you sense the goals will not dry up against Premier League new boys. But Chelsea have a real problem with keeping clean sheets recently. Although they’ve been winning games comfortably they are prone to conceding a daft goal, especially when the game looks won. So 4-1 at 33/2 seems to be the sensible approach here- a comfortable Chelsea win, but with a defensive slip thrown into the mix as well.
CB: Well Josh has set his stall out there. Lots of goals expected. Who’s likely to be on the scoresheet?
HB:When we look at potential goalscorers here, QPR are somewhat lacking in a dedicated man to do the job, which may not be a bad thing as they have spread goals around the team. With the news that DJ Campbell is now out through injury, I’m looking at one of the more influential members of the team to grab a goal in a game where they may not be presented with many clear cut chances. Where better to look than Joey Barton, priced at 9/2, to score any time in the 90 minutes.
JB: If Chelsea win nothing this year the season will be remembered for Daniel Sturridge’s emergence as a top class striker. Chelsea have rated Sturridge for a while, Villas-Boas as soon as he saw his first training session. Such is the success of Sturridge serious questions are being asked of the futures of Chelsea’s long established front men of Drogba, Anelka and Kalou. He was rested for the Champions League tie and I suspect Villas-Boas’ game plan will revolve around Sturridge’s sharp movement around the QPR penalty area. With three goals in his last two games, he’s in fine form too. A double for Sturridge is 4/1 too, and that looks tempting to me.
CB: So how many goals are you expecting Harry? We’ve already had a score prediction from Josh.
HB: For anyone looking to dip into the regular time goal bet market, 1-1 appears to be decent value at 33/4. QPR’s last two home games have ended one-a-piece, with the home side appearing resilient and eager to get points on the board early in the season. They could have a tough time in trying to win the game, but there are a few tricks that Mr Warnock could pull out of his sleeve to engineer a draw out of this fixture.
CB: So should we expect the goal – or goals, depending on how you look at it – to come early on or late in the match?
HB: Another decent bet may be Queen’s Park Rangers to score the first goal in the first half at 4/1. As we saw when Chelsea played West Brom earlier in the season, if you get of to a quick start, it is possible to take the lead against the Blues. Given the fact that QPR are strong at home and will have the fans behind them from the off, these seem like generous odds. 4 out of their 6 league goals this season have come in the first half and with a Chelsea defence that may be slightly cold after having 90 minutes of doing not a lot of defending against Genk, Rangers may be looking to get off to a quick start.
JB: When sides like Chelsea play newly promoted sides like QPR the pattern of play is usually quite similar: the weaker team set out to frustrate the better team and work their socks off to do so, often at an unsustainable rate. They do well for an hour, a daft mistake opens the floodgates and more follow. I could see this at Loftus Road, Neil Warnock will set his side up cleverly and the first half will be tight, but as Chelsea bring on the likes of Drogba against tired legs goals will come.
CB: Any other bets catch your eye?
JB: Given Chelsea’s talent they can introduce from the bench against QPR and given that the Blues are prone to conceding late goals I think three or more goals in the second half are likely. In their last five matches Chelsea have conceded three late goals. Added into the mix I think QPR will resist Chelsea for the best part of an hour before they concede the majority of their goals so it seems only sensible to go for a more entertaining second half than first! Three goals in the second half is priced at 11/4.
HB: A good bet to consider in this all London affair could be QPR to score exactly one goal in the match at 3/2. Looking at their home form, Neil Warnock’s side have scored one in each of the last two of their previous home games. Chelsea, although being reasonably strong at the back, haven’t gone a game without conceding a goal since the opening day of the season and even when they play well they seem to leak a goal.
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