Leicester v Chelsea Betting Tips (FA Cup) – 18th March 2018

After their Champions League exit in midweek, Chelsea head to Leicester in the FA Cup on Sunday. The Blues are aiming for a return to Wembley, as they chase the only silverware on offer for them this term. While the main focus for the campaign will be securing a place in the top four, Antonio Conte has unfinished business with this competition. The defeat to Arsenal in the final last term will still anger the Italian, and he’ll want to put an end to a record which has seen him lift four domestic titles without succeeding in a cup final as a manager.

Of course, the Blues are taking on a Leicester side who are chasing silverware to follow up their 2016 title win. The Foxes are having a strong season, as they push for a Europa League spot in the league. But can they add a cup run to Wembley on top of that? They’ll be out for a win on Sunday, but their memory of losing out at this stage of the EFL Cup in December is likely to hang over the Foxes’ heads going into this weekend’s big clash.

Team News: Conte Can’t Afford to Rotate at King Power

Chelsea remain without David Luiz and Ross Barkley, but neither of those two were likely to feature in this game anyway. The Blues boss tends to make changes in this competition, but given the current state of the campaign the champions can ill-afford to risk dropping out of the cup. With a two week international break to come before the top four push restarts, the Blues have no reason to try and switch things up or this trip to the King Power.

We expect to see a strong side to start for the visitors, although Conte may continue to make Willy Caballero the goalkeeper for cup matches. Aside from that, there’s little reason for Conte to rotate, so don’t expect too many changes from the side which took the field at the Camp Nou.

Leicester have no major injury concerns this weekend, which gives Claude Puel plenty of room when he approaches his team selection. The Frenchman has tried playing a 3-5-2 system with the Foxes recently, but last weekend saw them win at West Brom with a 4-2-3-1 set-up. They have tried going with a 4-3-3 featuring two wingers, and that kind of approach is probably best when taking on this Chelsea side, so we expect that to be the system Puel uses for this clash.

Leicester Form

Leicester’s 4-1 victory over West Brom last weekend keeps them in European contention, as they remain eighth in the Premier League. They’re just eight points shy of underperforming Arsenal, while they’re only three short of seventh. With three of the top five still in this competition – and each them are favourites in their respective ties – it’s likely that one will lift the cup, opening up a final seventh European place in the Premier League. Can the Foxes claim that?

They’ll have to boost their home form to take seventh, having passed up plenty of chances to leapfrog Burnley of late. The Foxes have drawn three of their last four at this ground, with their only win coming against Championship opposition in the FA Cup. While they have two wins at home in this competition behind them, recent draws at home to struggling sides have to worry Puel.

Leicester v Chelsea Head to Head

Chelsea have a strong record against the Foxes, having gone unbeaten in six encounters. The Blues have also managed to win three of the last four meetings between these sides, along with a 4-2 victory at this ground in the EFL Cup last term. The Blues have only failed to win once at this ground since the hosts returned to the top flight, and that was during Leicester’s title winning season. With that in mind, the Blues have a great chance of progressing here.

  • Chelsea 0-0 Leicester, Jan 2018
  • Leicester 1-2 Chelsea, Sept 2017
  • Leicester 0-3 Chelsea, Jan 2017
  • Chelsea 3-0 Leicester, Nov 2016
  • Leicester 2-4 (AET) Chelsea, Sept 2016

Betting Tips

  • Both Teams to Score – 8/11 with Betfair
  • Over 1.5 Chelsea Goals – 21/20 with Coral

Chelsea make this trip as favourites to win the clash, priced up at 11/10 with Betfred to get the three points. Meanwhile, the Foxes are 12/5 with Ladbrokes to delight their home faithful with a victory, while the draw is 5/2 with BetVictor this weekend. Of course, a draw here wouldn’t force a replay at Stamford Bridge, with quarter-finals going straight to extra time these days. Can the champions live up to their billing as favourites, or will this be the week which sees their season fall apart?

The visitors will have to be a little concerned about their defensive form this weekend, having conceded in their last four. They make this trip having lost five straight away trips, which has seen them ship 12 goals across those matches. The Blues’ defence at the moment isn’t the most experienced, and we think that is playing a part in their defensive issues. While the side looked organised in Barcelona, it was defensive errors which cost the game. Unfortunately, that’s not the first time that has hit the Blues this term.

We see both teams scoring here, based on Leicester having scored in all but two of their home games this term. That outcome can be backed at 8/11 with Betfair. While the hosts are strong going forward, they aren’t that effective at the back. Leicester have conceded two or more in four of their home clashes with the top five, including a 2-1 loss to Chelsea. The Blues have scored twice in five of their last six trips here, and we’re backing over 1.5 goals for the visitors at 21/20 with Coral.

Barcelona v Chelsea Betting Tips (Champions League) – 14th March 2018

Chelsea are back in Champions League action for potentially the last time this season, and maybe the last time for a while. The Blues head into this trip to Catalonia with the bookmakers making no secret of their expectations here, as the Spanish league leaders are heavily backed to win the second leg and the tie overall. With the Blues now in fifth position in the top flight, they could fail to qualify for this competition next term, which would be a disaster for the reigning Premier League champions. Can they boost their season with a shock victory at Barca?

Having recently come under fire after a poor display against Man City, it will be interesting to see how Antonio Conte approaches the second leg. Will his side play a high intensity game in this trip and risk burning out towards the end, or will there be another defensive set-up on display? With a potential final appearance among Europe’s elite coming up, hopefully the Blues can produce a memorable performance at the very least.

Team News: How Will Conte Handle the Catalans?

Conte will be hoping that N’Golo Kante is at full fitness for this huge clash, as his presence will be crucial for the Blues to get anything out of this trip. Without the Frenchman, the Blues lack organisation and dynamism, which cuts a large chunk out of their game. It’s already a huge ask for Chelsea to get anything out of this game, and their approach here will depend on the fitness of Kante.

Without him we could see Conte compensate by using a five man midfield. On top of that, the Chelsea boss has to decide if his team are going to go all out for a crucial away goal or not. However, we think the recent visit to the Etihad may be the blueprint that the champions turn to on Wednesday. Whether such tactics could be at all successful remains to be seen of course.

Barcelona shouldn’t have any major issues ahead of this game, as they don’t have any big selection worries. The hosts have been going with a 4-4-2 system this term, and that is working out pretty well for them so far. We don’t expect them to make any big changes to that approach ahead of this visit from the Blues, especially with Luis Suarez and Lionel Messi playing so well right now.

Barcelona Form

Barcelona come into Wednesday’s meeting in fantastic form, having won all but two of their last 18 home matches. That’s not only put them top of La Liga, but the Catalans are making good progress in Europe and in the Spanish cup. With a potential treble on the horizon, it’s hard to argue with what Barca have been producing this season, and that’s why they’re expected to make it through here.

While Barca’s away problems in the Champions League made us think that the Catalans were going to have some issues at the Bridge, it’s a very different story in the Camp Nou. Barca have won 18 of their last 19 in this competition at home, while it’s almost five years since their last home defeat in the Champions League, and that was in a clash with that season’s victorious Bayern Munich side, who won a treble of their own. With that kind of run behind them, La Liga’s leaders will be expecting a victory this week.

Barcelona v Chelsea Head to Head

The first leg meeting between these two continued the string of draws between them. There’s been six draws in the last seven encounters, which means that we might see a closer game once again. Given how we’ve seen Chelsea approach the recent encounters with Barca and Man City, we’d have to expect them to make things tough for the Catalans, which could lead to yet another draw.

  • Chelsea 1-1 Barcelona, Feb 2018
  • Chelsea 2-2 Barcelona, Jul 2015
  • Barcelona 2-2 Chelsea, Apr 2014
  • Chelsea 1-0 Barcelona, Apr 2012
  • Chelsea 1-1 Barcelona, May 2009

Betting Tips

  • Under 2.5 Goals – 11/8 with BetVictor
  • Under 1.5 Barca Goals – 17/10 with Betfair

Having struck late to come away from London with a draw, Barcelona are now heavy favourites to book a place in the quarter-finals. The Catalans are priced up at 4/9 with Betfred to win this clash within 90 minutes, while the Blues are a huge 13/2 with Ladbrokes to come away with a victory this weekend. The Blues did qualify with a draw here in their last trip to Catalonia, and Coral make it 7/2 for this clash to finish all square. However, the Premier League side would need a 2-2 draw to progress on away goals, which can be backed at 16/1 with Betfair.

However, it’s hard to see this game racking up quite that many goals. The hosts may be strong at the Camp Nou in Europe, but they’ve seen a few low scoring matches of late. Eight of their last nine in all competitions have seen fewer than three goals scored, as have five of their previous six in this competition. With Chelsea likely to come here looking to make things difficult for the Barca attack, we don’t see this becoming a high scoring tie. We’re backing under 2.5 goals in this trip, which can be backed at 11/8 with BetVictor.

Chelsea do need an away goal, but a key thing for them will be keeping the score down in this visit. We’re backing the visitors to put in a strong defensive shift, especially given they restricted Europe’s strongest attack – Man City – to just one goal and very few chances in the meeting at the Etihad earlier this month. Following on from that display, we’re backing under 1.5 goals for Barca in this game, as they were well-marshalled in the first leg. That bet seems well priced at 17/10 with Betfair ahead of this clash.

Chelsea v Crystal Palace Betting Tips (Premier League) – 10th March 2018

Following a defeat and an awful display at Manchester City on Sunday, Chelsea should be worried about their meeting with Crystal Palace on Saturday. Not only did the Blues lose away to the Eagles earlier this season, but Palace have been tricky opposition for Chelsea in recent years. Having fallen even further off the pace in the top four race, the last thing Antonio Conte’s side need right now is to come up short against a side in the bottom three. Could Palace spring a surprise, or will the hosts return to form?

Chelsea have spectacularly blown a strong position in the Premier League to find themselves lying in fifth place in the table. They’re having a tough time keeping pace with Tottenham, while Manchester United and Liverpool are streets ahead of the reigning champions right now. Conte clearly sees a gulf between his side and the elite, given the conservative way he lined his side up for their weekend trip to the Etihad. Can the Italian turn things around with a more positive approach this week? At this point, three points should really be all that he’s focused on, because the Blues really need to get some form together.

Team News: Conte Needs Style Change Following City Slump

Of course, there’s no excuse for Chelsea being so reserved against any Premier League rival. Not only have we seen attacking sides get more joy against City, but the Blues’ squad should never be so pedestrian and sheepish. The Italian needs to make some sort of change for this clash, even just in the approach he takes. While going with the 3-4-3 formation once again wouldn’t be a huge problem, a tactical shake-up might be key given how the team have been playing of late. It might be a quick-fire way to wake this team out of their slumber.

Palace have some big injury concerns coming into this game, with Chelsea loanee Rueben Loftus-Cheek among their 10 unavailable players. Mamadou Sakho, Yohann Cabaye and Scott Dann are among their experienced names who miss out, which leaves Roy Hodgson with some selection issues. Their defence should be an issue, with four players missing going into a difficult trip for the relegation-battling side. Palace have been sticking with a 4-4-2 set-up lately, and they’re unlikely to change that approach.

Crystal Palace Form

Palace made the worst ever Premier League start, yet they still managed to bounce up in to mid-table by January when they beat Burnley. However, that was their last win. The Eagles are winless in six going in to this trip, and they have been sucked straight back in to trouble after those poor results. They’re now 18th in the table, and they’re heading for the Championship once again if they can’t arrest this slump.

The question now is did Hodgson actually make a difference, or did the change just spark them temporarily in to life. There’s little time for the Eagles to make another sacking, so they need to end their poor run. Putting an end to a run of two wins in 18 away trips would also be helpful for the Eagles’ survival hopes.

Chelsea v Crystal Palace Head to Head

Recent meetings between these two teams haven’t gone all that well for Chelsea. The Blues lost in a shock defeat in this fixture last season, while the Eagles won here in their first trip to the Bridge following Chelsea’s last title win. This has been a fixture which Antonio Conte hasn’t quite adapted to, and after the Palace display on Monday night you’d have to wonder if the visitors will pose a threat once again.

  • Crystal Palace 2-1 Chelsea, Nov 2017
  • Chelsea 1-2 Crystal Palace, Apr 2017
  • Crystal Palace 0-1 Chelsea, Dec 2016
  • Crystal Palace 0-3 Chelsea, Jan 2016
  • Chelsea 1-2 Crystal Palace, Aug 2015

Betting Tips

  • Both Teams to Score – 11/10 with Coral
  • Alvaro Morata to score first – 29/10 with BetVictor

Despite Chelsea’s troubles, the Blues are priced up as 2/7 favourites with Betfred. Meanwhile, struggling Palace are out at 10/1 with Ladbrokes to pull off another win at Stamford Bridge, which might actually be a little too big given their head to head record against the champions. You can back the visitors to get a point at 22/5 with BetVictor. With Palace winning 2-1 in three of their last five meetings with Chelsea, Betfair are offering 30/1 for that to happen once again. However, we can’t see the Eagles doing that well given their results of late.

That being said, the visitors should still be able to get a goal at Stamford Bridge. This Chelsea defence hasn’t been up to scratch of late, while the Eagles have shown some decent attacking form. They hit their first goals of the season against Chelsea in that 2-1 win earlier this term, and they continued to excite going forward in Monday night’s meeting with Manchester United. Their two goals in that game continued their scoring form, as they’ve found the net in 13 of their last 15. Having scored in seven straight matches on the road, we’re backing them to fire past the Blues’ defence. Both teams to score here, which is available at odds 11/10 with Coral.

Chelsea have attacking threats of their own, and we think one of them will come roaring back to form this weekend. While Alvaro Morata has enjoyed a tough spell at Stamford Bridge at times, this seems like the perfect game for him. Palace have struggled defending out wide, which should allow opportunities for the wing-backs and attacking midfielders to get crosses in. Given that just three sides have conceded more headed goals than Palace this term, Morata should have a chance of making a difference here. We think he’ll get the nod up front in an attacking change from Conte, and as a result we’re backing Morata to score first at 29/10 with BetVictor.

Man City v Chelsea Betting Tips (Premier League) – 4th March 2018

Chelsea are back in Premier League action this weekend, as they prepare for a trip to leaders Man City. The English champions are facing the side who are set to dethrone them at the summit, with Pep Guardiola’s side now 16 points clear of second placed Manchester United following a midweek win over Arsenal. The Citizens are a full 22 points clear of Chelsea, who have now slipped out of the top four following a defeat in Manchester last weekend. Can the Blues boost their Champions League hopes with an unlikely victory on Sunday?

Antonio Conte has a tough job to stop this City side, especially given how well they’ve played over the last couple of games. Managing to shut down this City team is something which seems almost impossible on current form, while the hosts can’t stop scoring. While there’s basically nothing but time between the leaders and the league title, the Blues are facing huge opposition for a top four finish in the Premier League. After losing to Man United, falling behind Liverpool and now Tottenham, Chelsea have surrendered so much to their rivals that fighting their way back into fourth is set to be an uphill battle.

Team News: How Will Conte Plan to Stop City?

The big question here isn’t around player selection, but with regard to Conte’s tactics. The Blues boss tried to combat City with a five man midfield at the Bridge, which couldn’t match up to the Citizens’ technical skill. However, a high intensity 3-4-3 did push Barcelona in the Champions League. Will Conte take a risk with that system, especially after it started so well at Old Trafford last weekend? We expect him to start with that usual set-up, without a huge number of changes from the team which lost at Old Trafford last time out.

Man City tend to line up with a 4-3-3, and they’re playing with David Silva in a central midfield role in order to fit an extra name in the front three. They did that in two meetings with Arsenal, but they may choose to change ahead of a likely battle with Chelsea in this clash. The Blues should pose a more physical threat, so City could react to that. The hosts are without Fernandinho and Raheem Sterling, while Gabriel Jesus and Benjamin Mendy remain long-term absentees.

Man City Form

Man City continued their great run with a 3-0 win over Arsenal on Thursday night. That was their second win by that scoreline over the Gunners in the space of days, following a win at Wembley in the EFL Cup final. Having won the first silverware of the season last weekend, they should be in great form going into this clash. They’ll be looking to keep that momentum going in this meeting with the champions, as they look to wrap up the title as soon as possible.

City are impressing at home, having won all but one of their league matches at the Etihad so far. They’ve won 13 matches on the spin there, heading into this meeting with the Blues. Will Antonio Conte’s side be able to break that run, or can City extend that fantastic run of results? Having scored at least twice across all of those wins, the hosts are going to be really difficult to stop.

Man City v Chelsea Head to Head

Chelsea have a mixed record away at the Etihad in recent years, but most of their recent meetings have been at Stamford Bridge. The Blues lost the reverse fixture earlier this term, while they have lost three of their last six trips to City. The 3-1 win which the Blues picked up last season was followed by a home win, but the victory for Pep’s men earlier this term showed how the dynamic has changed between these two.

  • Chelsea 0-1 Man City, Sep 2017
  • Chelsea 2-1 Man City, Apr 2017
  • Man City 1-3 Chelsea, Dec 2016
  • Chelsea 0-3 Man City, Apr 2016
  • Chelsea 5-1 Man City, Feb 2016

Betting Tips

  • Over 2.5 Goals – 7/10 with BetVictor
  • Sergio Aguero to score – 21/20 with Ladbrokes

Chelsea are massive outsiders coming into this trip to the Etihad. The Blues are priced at 21/5 with Coral to claim another win at this ground, while City are priced at just 13/20 with Betfred to make this their 14th straight Premier League victory at this stadium. Meanwhile, the draw can be backed at 31/10 with BetVictor. The Blues are looking to follow up their 3-1 win at this ground last season, with a repeat of that scoreline incredibly priced at massive odds of 40/1 with Betfair.

We do expect another high scoring game on Sunday, although it is more likely to go in City’s favour on current form. The Blues did make a strong start at Old Trafford last weekend, but their inexperienced defence couldn’t hold the Red Devils at bay. That doesn’t bode well for this meeting with City, who have been scoring goals for fun at their own ground. The Citizens have seen over 2.5 goals land in their last 13 home matches in the league, while the Blues have averaged close to two goals per game on the road. On the back of that, we should see plenty of goals here, with over 2.5 priced at 7/10 with BetVictor.

One man who is likely to get in on the scoring is Sergio Aguero, with the forward scoring 10 times in 15 clashes with Chelsea. The Argentine has 21 goals in 21 league starts, and we expect him to hit the target against the Blues on Sunday. Despite his impressive form and great track record against Chelsea, Aguero can be backed at 21/20 with Ladbrokes to score any time in this weekend’s big game. With a high scoring game likely, we’re tipping him to get one of the goals at the Etihad.

Manchester United v Chelsea Betting Tips (Premier League) – 25th February 2018

Can Chelsea claim three points in their return to Premier League action on Sunday? The Blues are bound for Old Trafford this weekend, as they look to dent Jose Mourinho and Manchester United’s push for the Champions League. Despite adding Alexis Sanchez to the side, the Red Devils have struggled in the league of late, losing back to back away games. The last thing they need after a couple of setbacks is to welcome the champions to Manchester. With just three points between these two sides heading into this clash, it could have a huge bearing on this season’s top four race.

Of course, this weekend does represent something of a missed opportunity for the champions. They could well have been lining up at Wembley this weekend, having lost out to Arsenal in the EFL Cup semi-finals. The Blues will be on their way back from Manchester as the first silverware of the season is contested, so it would be a pretty demoralising trip south should they lose to Mourinho’s men. Can Antonio Conte and his team avoid that fate by securing all three points against their top four rivals on Sunday?

Team News: Will Conte Push for a Five Man Midfield?

The big question heading into this game is over the system Antonio Conte decides to go with. The 3-4-3 has been relatively unchanged in recent weeks, but the Italian has moved to a 3-5-2 in big games this season, in order to control the midfield. They’re likely to come up against five United midfielders in this one, so a change could be necessary. The system also helped the Blues claim a 1-0 win at home to United in the reverse fixture, and now that Conte has enough bodies in midfield to play with a five across the middle, he could be tempted to make a change ahead of this crucial clash.

Much of the week’s discussion has been about Mourinho’s relationship with Paul Pogba. The Portuguese doesn’t seem all that keen on the club’s record signing, and he’s not hit the heights expected given his enormous transfer fee. The midfielder should play a part in this game, but for Mourinho to make him effective he needs to tweak his approach. The signing of Sanchez seems to have impacted their setup, which is now a 4-2-3-1 formation, with Pogba alongside former Chelsea man Nemanja Matic in central midfield. That’s likely to be the duo once again on Sunday, which is at least a powerful double act, if nothing else.

Manchester United Form

Two defeats from their last three league games have left United much closer to the top four battle than to leaders Man City. The Red Devils trail City by 16 points, although they do have a chance to close that gap temporarily this weekend. Fifth placed Tottenham went into the weekend just four points behind Man United, with the remaining three Champions League spots seemingly being contested by the four sides sandwiched between City and Arsenal.

United do have a good record behind them at home, unbeaten against all of the sides below them in the standings. They lost to City at Old Trafford, but aside from that they have 10 wins from 12 matches, which has seen them average 2.46 points per game. That has given them the second best home record in the division, so Chelsea have their work cut out in this weekend’s clash against a side that has scored more freely on home soil.

Manchester United v Chelsea Head to Head

Chelsea have been hosting Man United pretty regularly of late, which has seen them claim three wins from their last five encounters. Their recent record at Old Trafford hasn’t been too bad, losing just one of their last five trips to Old Trafford. However, that defeat came in their visit to Manchester last April, which brought a rare loss for Conte on the way to the league title.

  • Chelsea 1-0 Manchester United, Nov 2017
  • Manchester United 2-0 Chelsea, Apr 2017
  • Chelsea 1-0 Manchester United, Mar 2017
  • Chelsea 4-0 Manchester United, Oct 2016
  • Chelsea 1-1 Manchester United, Feb 2016

Betting Tips

  • Under 2.5 Goals – 7/10 with Ladbrokes
  • Draw – 12/5 with BetVictor

Man United’s strong home form obviously makes them favourites for Sunday’s clash, and they’ve been priced up at 11/10 with Betfair to take the points. Meanwhile, the Blues are out at 11/4 with Betfred for a victory at Old Trafford. You can back the draw at 12/5 here, with these two sides looking quite even going into this weekend. Can the Blues pull off a victory, or will they be left outside of the top four and reeling from yet another blow to Conte’s position as manager?

While Chelsea have seen their fair share of high scoring away trips this term, we expect a different kind of game this weekend. These two managers may have a deep dislike for one another, but they come into this clash knowing that a safety first policy is probably the best way to go. We’ve all see how Mourinho sets up for big games, and if Conte goes for a midfield five once again then we’re likely to see a very cagey game played out between these two once again.

Only one of the last six meetings between these two have seen both teams score, while the last five meetings at Old Trafford have seen under 2.5 goals. Given how these two managers are likely to approach this game, we can see another low scoring affair on Sunday. We’re backing under 2.5 at 7/10 with Ladbrokes here. With four draws between the two at Old Trafford since 2013, we’re also going for this one to finish level, which is available at 12/5 with BetVictor. With a close game very likely, that seems like a great price.

Chelsea v Barcelona Betting Tips (Champions League) – 20th February 2018

Chelsea return to Champions League action this week, and they are about to pay the price for their second place finish in the group. The Blues slumped to finish behind Roma in their pool, leaving them facing La Liga leaders Barcelona in the last 16.

Given how the Catalans are very much on the up domestically – despite the sale of Neymar – the Blues are the outsiders in this one. Can Antonio Conte inspire his side to a victory over another Spanish side, or will they drop out of Europe at the first knockout round as they did in the 2015/16 season?

The bookies clearly see a victory for Barcelona, not just overall but in this first leg. Losing the opening clash would be a huge setback for the Premier League champions, with a trip to the Nou Camp coming up in three weeks’ time. Chelsea crashed out to PSG in 2016 when they were last in the competition, during their last dismal season following a title win. While things haven’t been quite as tough this time around, crashing out of Europe at this stage would be a setback which Antonio Conte can’t really afford at this stage.

Team News: How Will Blues Deal With Catalans?

Conte made his customary changes in their FA Cup clash on Friday night, but don’t expect anyone to be held back for this clash. Marcos Alonso should be fit again to take up his place on the left side of defence, while Victor Moses will be on the opposite wing. Olivier Giroud is available for selection despite playing a role in Arsenal’s Europa League campaign, but he’s not likely to start ahead of Alvaro Morata. The Spaniard showed his worth in the trip to Atletico Madrid earlier this season, and there’s hope that he can provide a similar impact in this game.

Barcelona may be known for the 4-3-3 which Pep Guardiola utilised to take them to incredible levels, but things have been different this season. The loss of Neymar, and the injury to his replacement – Ousmane Dembele – means Barca are no longer using their front three. Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez are their double act up front, with a four man midfield behind them. While a 4-4-2 isn’t what you’d usually expect from Barca, but the approach does seem to be working for them. Having moved seven points clear at the top of the table in Spain, it’s clearly an effective approach.

Barcelona Form

It’s hard to match Barca’s form this season, given that they’ve won 18 of their 23 league games, drawing the rest. It’s been too much for European champions Real Madrid to handle, who are 17 points behind the Catalans in the table. They’ve won 75% of their away trips this season, so can they take that form into this clash with the Premier League side?

The visitors have built their brilliant form on a strong defensive record, as they’ve conceded just 0.48 goals per game in the league this term. They’ve managed to keep a clean sheet in 61% of their outings in La Liga, which should worry a Chelsea side who have been hit and miss up front this season. However, the Catalans have drawn both trips to sides in the top three in Spain, so there’s a chance that they’ll struggle in another big game this week.

Chelsea v Barcelona Head to Head

The Blues have a fantastic record against Barcelona of late, having gone seven games unbeaten against the Catalans. That includes the last two meetings – the incredible double header in the 2012 semi-finals of this competition, including an incredible strike from Ramires and the late Fernando Torres strike. Can the Premier League side continue that run this week?

  • Barcelona 2-2 Chelsea, Apr 2012
  • Chelsea 1-0 Barcelona, Apr 2012
  • Chelsea 1-1 Barcelona, May 2009
  • Barcelona 0-0 Chelsea, Apr 2009
  • Barcelona 2-2 Chelsea, Oct 2006

Betting Tips

  • Under 2.5 Goals – 19/20 with Betfair
  • 0-0 Draw – 10/1 with Coral

Chelsea are 3/1 outsiders with Betfred heading into this game, despite their impressive record against the Catalans of late. Meanwhile, the visitors have been made favourites at evens with Ladbrokes, while you can back the draw at 13/5 with BetVictor here. It does seem like the recent record between the two sides is being largely ignored, and there’s also a case to say that Barca’s results in this competition are being ignored too. They’ve not been a side who have won at a canter in their recent away trips in Europe, so could they struggle at Stamford Bridge?

Barca have slipped up at top sides in Spain, and they come into this game with a mixed record in Europe on the road. The last few seasons have seen them toil in trips to all kinds of sides. They’ve managed just three wins in their last nine away in this competition, including just one victory in five. They lost to nil away to PSG and Juventus last season, before seeing a single goal scored across the last three European ties. An own goal gave them a 1-0 win at Sporting, while they drew 0-0 at Olympiakos and Juventus in the group. That doesn’t bode well for this clash.

With Chelsea having a mixed record going forward this term, we can’t see this being a high scoring game. We’re backing under 2.5 goals in this clash, which looks like good value at 19/20 with Betfair. Given how the Blues are unbeaten of late against the Catalans, having drawn most of those clashes we expect this one to finish up level too. While the draw seems like good value in this clash, we’re backing a goalless draw in this one, despite many predicting goals. A 0-0 draw is well priced at 10/1 with Coral.

Chelsea v Hull Betting Tips (FA Cup) – 16th February 2018

Chelsea are back in FA Cup action on Friday night, as Championship side Hull City head to Stamford Bridge. The Premier League champions are obviously heavy favourites to progress, given that they’re meeting a struggling second tier outfit in this clash.

While there have been problems surrounding the Blues in recent weeks, it’s hard to see a situation whereby they end up exiting the cup this weekend. After all, they should have far too much for the Tigers, even taking in heavy rotation into account. With the hosts aiming to go one better than last year in this competition, the stage does seem set for them to book a place in the quarter-finals.

Hull are hoping to lift the gloom after a tough 18 months by going on a cup run. The Tigers were finalists in this competition back in 2014, but can they go that far again? Having slumped in the Championship and after drawing the Premier League champions, you would imagine that the Tigers are cursing their luck. Having seen Chelsea just beat West Brom 3-0, you have to wonder how they’ll get on when they meet a poor side from the Championship this weekend.

Team News: Changes Likely Ahead of Catalan Visit

Antonio Conte doesn’t have a lengthy injury list this weekend, with Marcos Alonso and Ross Barkley both doubts. The Italian could have easily started without the pair anyway. With Barcelona heading for the Bridge in midweek, we expect that Conte will be looking to make changes for this clash. He’s likely to rest most of the back five, while Thibaut Courtois will sit out. Danny Drinkwater could make a start in midfield, while Willian and Pedro are the frontrunners to start behind Olivier Giroud this weekend, as Eden Hazard and Alvaro Morata are held back for the clash with the Catalans.

Sadly, Hull man Ryan Mason retired in the lead-up to this game. It’s over a year ago that he fractured his skull at the Bridge in an aerial battle with Gary Cahill, and medical advice has told him not to return to the game. On top of that, the visitors have some selection issues to concern themselves with, as they have three Chelsea loanees. Ola Aina, Fikayo Tomori and Michael Hector are all unavailable for this game, so they all sit out. Without forward Abel Hernandez, the Tigers are significantly weakened going into this clash.

Hull Form

The Tigers have only just dropped down to the second tier, but they are battling against relegation to League One. They’ve found themselves in the relegation mix in recent months, having climbed out with a 2-0 win last weekend. They’ve won just six games in the Championship this term, suffering 14 defeats in 31 matches. Having scored less than a goal per game on the road in the league this term, which doesn’t bode well for a clash with Premier League opposition.

Hull have been particularly poor on the road this season, having lost nine of their 16 away trips. The Tigers have managed just two away wins in the Championship, and the highest placed team they’ve beaten on the road is 17th placed Nottingham Forest. In 12 meetings with the top nine sides, they’ve won none, losing nine. While victories against Blackburn Rovers and Nottingham Forest have taken them in to the Fifth Round of the FA Cup, the Tigers are likely to struggle when they meet the Premier League champions.

Chelsea v Hull Head to Head

Chelsea come into this clash having won their last six clashes with Hull. They won to nil home and away to the Tigers last term, as the two sides went in very different directions. The first victory last term – a 2-0 win at Hull – was the first time Conte started out with a back three as Chelsea boss. That win was a shaky one, but it kicked off the winning run which fired the Blues towards last season’s Premier League title.

  • Chelsea 2-0 Hull, Jan 2017
  • Hull 0-2 Chelsea, Oct 2016
  • Hull 2-3 Chelsea, Mar 2015
  • Chelsea 2-0 Hull, Dec 2014
  • Hull 0-2 Chelsea, Jan 2014

Betting Tips

  • Chelsea half-time/full-time – 3/4 with Ladbrokes
  • Chelsea to win 2-0 – 5/1 with BetVictor

The Blues are priced at 1/5 with Betfred to win this game, while they’re 1/14 with Betfair to qualify for the quarter-finals. The draw can be backed at 6/1 with Betfair in this game, while you can back Hull at 16/1 with Coral. The Premier League side are clear favourites for this clash, but can they live up to that favourites tag? We’ve had a look around at the betting on this one, as we look to find a couple of alternative picks with some better value.

While the Blues are likely to make changes, they’re set to include some big money signings in the mix. The likes of Willian, Pedro and Giroud should all make enough of an impact to leave key names out, as Conte looks to balance his side’s chances across multiple competitions. Of course, the Tigers are more significantly weakened than Chelsea – even with rotation taken into account. We struggle to see how the Championship side get anything out of this game given the gulf in class between them.

We’re backing Chelsea to take control of this tie early on, as we’re tipping them to be ahead at the end of each half. They seem like great value at 3/4 with Ladbrokes on the half-time/full-time market, which is our first tip. We’re also backing a comfortable 2-0 win for the Blues, given their excellent winning run against the Tigers. They won both meetings last season 2-0, while the last three encounters at Stamford Bridge have seen the Blues win 2-0, so we’re backing a repeat at 5/1 with BetVictor.

Chelsea v West Brom Betting Tips (Premier League) – 12th February 2018

Chelsea have had a week break since their thumping at the hands of Watford, so how will they get on at home to West Brom? Alan Pardew takes his side to the Bridge on Monday night in a game which the champions need to win, but it isn’t going to be easy. Having conceded seven goals to Watford and Bournemouth in recent games, Antonio Conte’s men are really struggling. They need to improve, especially with both Tottenham and Arsenal chasing them for fourth place. While the Italian is currently safe in his position as manager, he needs to show signs of turning things around or else the Blues could turn to an alternative.

Will Conte manage to shake things up at the Bridge this week, or are his side set to drop out of the Champions League spots? West Brom have to be respected, given that they make this trip having recently won at Anfield to put Liverpool out of the cup. The Baggies are starting to turn a corner under Pardew, and taking on the Blues could provide a welcome boost for the strugglers. The champions need to be on their toes heading in to Monday’s meeting, especially given how lethargic and uninterested they looked in the game a week ago.

Team News: Can Giroud Start Lift The Blues?

Chelsea’s hopes of improving on their poor form have taken a blow on the injury front, with a few problems for Conte to deal with. Tiemoue Bakayoko is obviously absent following his red at Watford, while Andreas Christensen is out through injury. On top of that, Alvaro Morata, Ross Barkley and Pedro are all considered to be doubts, while Marcos Alonso faces a late race to get fit in time for this clash. Despite that and the recent results, Conte isn’t expected to make any significant changes to the formation. In brighter news, Olivier Giroud looks set for a first start for his new side and will provide another option.

Former Blue Daniel Sturridge should feature for the Baggies, who are likely to start with him and Jay Rodriguez in attack. West Brom are likely to use a three man defence in this one, as they seem sure to set up in a 3-5-2 system. However, they have significant issues at the back too, with Jonny Evans, Nacer Chadli and Grzegorz Krychowiak all missing out in this trip to the capital.

West Brom Form

The Baggies currently sit bottom of the Premier League table, making them perfect opposition for a side like Chelsea right now. The Blues may be struggling in their last couple of fixtures, but they’ll be expecting to prove themselves against the worst side in the league at the moment. The visitors are in an awful shape on their travels, and they come into this game having suffered eight away defeats already this season.

Only Stoke have fewer away points than West Brom this season, with the Baggies claiming just two points from their last six trips in the Premier League. That form points to them dropping down into the Championship, and you’d imagine that the champions will have more than enough quality to deal with them. Not only have the away side played six of the bottom eight on their travels and lost every game, but they have just one point from five meetings with the top four this term.

Chelsea v West Brom Head to Head

The Blues have won their last three clashes with West Brom, a run which includes their victory in May which sealed the league title. A 4-0 victory back in November was one of the champions’ most impressive results this term. Having won four of the last six meetings between the pair at Stamford Bridge, Chelsea will be expected to come out on top once again.

  • West Brom 0-4 Chelsea, Nov 2017
  • West Brom 0-1 Chelsea, May 2017
  • Chelsea 1-0 West Brom, Dec 2016
  • Chelsea 2-2 West Brom, Jan 2016
  • West Brom 2-3 Chelsea, Aug 2015

Betting Tips

  • Chelsea and Over 2.5 Goals – evens with Coral
  • Both teams to score – 21/20 with Ladbrokes

Chelsea may be struggling of late, but that hasn’t really affected their odds in this one. The Blues are still as short as 1/3 with BetVictor to take the points on Monday night. Meanwhile, you can back the draw in this game at 4/1 with Betfair, while the Baggies are a long odds 9/1 shot with Betfred to add to Chelsea’s misery. Going by recent form, you’d have to say that the champions are far too short in the betting for this game, and we’ve decided to look elsewhere for our bets on Monday’s encounter.

The champions have struggled of late, although this game does seem to be the perfect time for them to return to form. They are going up against a side with an awful away record, while the Blues have dominated the recent meetings between the pair. We do expect a high scoring game, as we don’t really have a huge amount of faith in the Chelsea defence right now. They look a little shaky without Christensen, while David Luiz is set to start in his place despite some awful recent form. With the Baggies starting with two up front, that’s something they’ll be out to exploit.

We expect to see West Brom making this into an open game, given their likely set-up. We expect both sides to find the net, given how many goals the champions have been conceding, so we’re backing both teams to score at very tempting odds of 21/20 with Ladbrokes. We’re also backing the Blues to edge a high scoring game this weekend, given that West Brom currently sit bottom of the Premier League table. We’re going for a Chelsea victory and over 2.5 goals to be scored, which can be backed at evens with Coral.

Watford v Chelsea Betting Tips (Premier League) – 5th February 2018

Chelsea head to Watford on Monday night as they look to recover from their mauling at home to Bournemouth. While the transfer deadline didn’t exactly go to plan for Antonio Conte and his side, their loss to the Cherries was an even bigger disaster, which has put their Champions League hopes at risk. The Blues need to be finishing in the top four as the minimum achievement this season, but now they have Tottenham and even Arsenal bearing down as the Blues toil just inside the top four. Can they turn things around at Vicarage Road?

The pressure on Antonio Conte has only grown more intense after that 3-0 loss, and it seems like his off field complaints are transferring across to the team. While Conte is showing little concern over his place in the Stamford Bridge dugout next season, he can’t depart the club having left them right back where he started – outside of the Champions League. This title defence is nowhere near as disastrous as the last, but the crisis club tag hasn’t deserted Chelsea for much of the campaign. Another loss on Monday night, and those claims will only grow.

Team News: Will Conte Hand Giroud a Quick Debut?

Chelsea are expected to go into this game without Alvaro Morata once again, with the forward still side-lined. That should lead to a first start for new signing Olivier Giroud, who has taken up Michy Batshuayi’s role as understudy to the club’s record signing. However, the Frenchman showed his reliability over the years at Arsenal, and he could well emerge as a first choice if he hits the ground running. We don’t expect starts from the other January signings – Ross Barkley and Emerson Palmieri. The pair need to get back to fitness, as the former Everton man showed in the Bournemouth defeat. Despite the nature of that loss, we can’t see too many other changes for Conte to make this week.

While Watford blamed their collapse in form on Marco Silva, they come into this game with a lengthy injury list. Among them is former Blue Nathaniel Chalobah, while Craig Cathcart and Younes Kaboul miss out in defence. The Hornets are expected to have as many as seven players absent for this game, which obviously affects their chances. That’s bound to have played a big part in their collapse in form, and we expect the hosts to find things tough once again.

Watford Form

The Hornets have recently switched manager, sacking Marco Silva following a dismal run of results. His admiring glances to Everton earned him no favours from the Watford board, who quickly turned on him when relegation became a concern. It’s not hard to see why, as the hosts have been in awful form of late. They have just two wins since the tail end of November, a run spanning 14 matches, and one of those was against Championship opposition.

The hosts have won one of their previous 12 in the top flight, while they have one win in their last six at home. They do have a habit of falling apart around this stage every season, but they should get enough points in the final stages of the campaign to survive. However, that aim is quite a step down over what they were hoping for when Silva had them flying. Can new boss Javi Gracia manage to restore some hope to the Watford faithful with a victory over the champions in his first home game?

Watford v Chelsea Head to Head

Chelsea have a solid record against the Hornets, barring the season after the previous title win. Of course, that campaign brought plenty of poor displays against average sides, and the Blues drew home and away to the then newly promoted side. Things have looked up for them recently, and Conte has a 100% record against the Hornets since taking charge, despite a couple of close calls.

  • Chelsea 4-2 Watford, Oct 2017
  • Chelsea 4-3 Watford, May 2017
  • Watford 1-2 Chelsea, Aug 2016
  • Watford 0-0 Chelsea, Feb 2016
  • Chelsea 2-2 Watford, Dec 2015

Betting Tips

  • Both Teams to Score – 19/20 with Betfair
  • Chelsea and Over 2.5 Goals – 6/4 with Coral

Chelsea head to Vicarage Road as favourites; they’re priced up at 4/7 with BetVictor to come away with the points on Monday night. The Hornets can be backed at 5/1 with Betfred to pull off a victory and turn their form around, while the draw is priced at 29/10 with Ladbrokes here. The Blues aren’t too badly priced for the win in this clash, but we think we’ve found a couple of bigger priced predictions ahead of the final game of the Premier League weekend.

While Watford don’t have a huge amount going for them in terms of form, they do have an impressive attacking record backing them up going in to this clash. They’ve found the net in seven straight home games, the only issue is that they’ve conceded in their previous six. The hosts have conceded 2.08 goals per game at home this term, so Chelsea shouldn’t worry too much about scoring, it seems like a perfect place for Giroud to make an impact. Given that the hosts have scored in 75% of their home games, and in four of their last five meetings with the Blues, we’re backing both teams to score at 19/20 with Betfair.

We expect a high scoring game, especially given that the Blues have won four of the last six encounters – with over 2.5 goals scored in each of those victories. Watford have seen over 2.5 in 67% of their home matches, while it has also landed in 67% of Chelsea’s away trips this term. We expect the Blues to take advantage of Watford’s awful form, but we should see goals in the process. An away win and over 2.5 goals is out second tip here, which is priced at 6/4 with Coral.

Chelsea v Bournemouth Betting Tips (Premier League) – 31st January 2018

Chelsea have had a cup double header over the past week, but they refocus on the Premier League on Wednesday night as they host Bournemouth. While there could be a few behind the scenes who are busy trying to get last minute deals over the line, the players won’t have too much time for that as they’re in action almost up until the window slams shut at 11pm. However, Antonio Conte needs to keep his focus away from the transfer business here, although according to him that won’t be too hard.

Conte needs to make sure the Blues’ return to Premier League action brings another three points, as they are still chasing Champions League football. The fight for the top four isn’t going to be easy, with Tottenham in fifth and Liverpool in fourth looking to overhaul the Blues. While Conte’s side may have their eye on a second place finish, the main objective is simply bettering fifth. That might not be the ideal campaign for some, but the Blues can ill-afford another season outside of Europe’s biggest competition.

Team News: Can Blues Return to High of Brighton Display?

With Alvaro Morata set to start up front, the Blues shouldn’t have too much to worry about in terms of attacking selections here. They come into this trip with few injury concerns, although Cesc Fabregas and Gary Cahill aren’t expected to feature. Having made changes across the recent cup games, Conte should revert to his strongest available side for this clash. The Blues are expected to start in their usual 3-4-3 system here, with Thibaut Courtois looking as though he will return in goal. It would seem that Willian is leading the race to start alongside Hazard and Morata up top, with Pedro struggling for form of late.

The visitors make this trip without Jermain Defoe, but he’s their only real concern ahead of this clash. They tried a three at the back approach for clashes with Man City and Arsenal, but that formation usually backfires when used against the Blues, who are masters at matching sides man for man in their now favoured set up. Should Eddie Howe go with that approach, it could cost them.

Bournemouth Form

Bournemouth have done well in recent weeks to drag themselves away from the drop zone, but they could have done much more early on in the campaign. The Cherries were in the bottom three early on, but they kept faith with Eddie Howe and he has guided them into the relative safety of mid-table. However, that doesn’t mean their form has been great of late. While they have kicked off an unbeaten run in the league, there are signs they could struggle here.

Bournemouth haven’t lost in any of their last five matches, but they’ve only managed two wins across their last 12. They’re without a win in six on the road, while they’ve lost half of their away trips so far this season. With 11 defeats to their name already this term, the South-coast side have struggled at times, and they’ve mostly done that against the top sides, having claimed just seven points from a possible 39 against the top 10 teams this season.

Chelsea v Bournemouth Head to Head

While Chelsea’s first meeting with Bournemouth resulted in an embarrassing 1-0 loss at Stamford Bridge, the Blues have enjoyed better form against the Cherries of late. They’ve won all of their previous five meetings with Howe and his men, including two clashes already this season.

  • Chelsea 2-1 Bournemouth, Dec 2017
  • Bournemouth 0-1 Chelsea, Oct 2017
  • Bournemouth 1-3 Chelsea, Apr 2017
  • Chelsea 3-0 Bournemouth, Dec 2016
  • Bournemouth 1-4 Chelsea, Apr 2016

Betting Tips

  • Chelsea to win and over 2.5 goals – 8/11 with Betfred
  • Chelsea to win to nil – 15/13 with Ladbrokes

The Blues are heavy favourites coming into this one, as they’re priced up at just 1/4 with BetVictor to take the three points from this game. The Cherries are 11/1 with Betfair to secure another shock win away to the champions – as they did in 2015. You can back the draw at 9/2 with Coral here, which isn’t a result Conte and co can really afford right now. Having put together an impressive run of form against Bournemouth, we can’t see Chelsea surrendering the points at home in this one. However, they’re obviously too short to go backing on the outright market.

We are backing a Chelsea win, but we do feel like there are opportunities to get a little more value out of it. For instance, the visitors have shipped four goals to Man City and Liverpool in a couple of recent big games, which could worry them going in to this trip. Another issue for the visitors is that they’re one of the sides Eden Hazard tends to enjoy playing against, as he has recorded five wins, five goals and an assist in six meetings with them. Recently the Blues have only really played well going forward when the Belgian has been on good form, so we could see a few goals from the champions. With that in mind, we’re tempted by Chelsea to win and over 2.5 goals in this one.

On top of that, the visitors do have a problem in terms of their attack against top sides. Having made four trips to the top six this season – failing to score in any of them. On top of that, the two sides they have yet to travel to – Chelsea and Liverpool – both beat them to nil at the Vitality Stadium. The Cherries tend to have a poor attacking record against top sides, and that won’t bode well against a side who have kept six clean sheets in their last seven in the league. As such, we’re backing a home win to nil as our second tip at odds of 15/13 with Ladbrokes.

Chelsea v Newcastle Betting Tips (FA Cup) – 28th January 2018

Chelsea have already exited one domestic cup this week, will they be knocked out of a second this weekend? Rafa Benitez takes his Newcastle side to the Bridge for the second time this season, aiming to cause a shock and to add to Antonio Conte’s misery. Having put in two woeful displays in the Third Round against Norwich, the Premier League champions need to up their game ahead of this weekend’s clash. On the back of another two poor displays in the League Cup semis, it feels like Conte has his work cut out with this side.

Of course, it doesn’t seem like this squad will be Conte’s problem for much longer. His midweek outburst following the League Cup semi-final defeat will have only irked the board even more, and there’s a gulf growing between the manager and those above him. Having criticised the club’s transfer policy and claiming that he’s been shut out of discussions over new signings, there’s clear anger from the Italian at the failure to build on last season’s title win. However, that’s only made his exit seem all the more likely. Will he manage to lift a domestic trophy for the first time as a manager before his expected departure this summer?

Team News: Will Conte Risk Changes Following Midweek Cup Exit?

One of the key causes of Conte’s anger in midweek was that the pack of alternatives outside of the first team left him picking youth players to plug the gaps. That wasn’t entirely clear on the pitch – the average age of Chelsea’s side on Wednesday was just over 27. You assume he was talking about Ross Barkley and Michy Batshuayi who came off the bench, but they cost the club a combined £50 million.

Following his outburst, Conte’s team selection this weekend will be very interesting. The two signings he’s been chasing this window – Emerson Palmieri and Edin Dzeko – aren’t going to be wrapped up in time for this clash. Given the Italian’s usual approach in the early rounds of cups is to rotate, he’s likely to make even more changes where possible, although the fitness of Alvaro Morata and Willian could force Hazard into starting.

Newcastle made quite a few changes for their Third Round win over Luton, but will they adopt a similar approach for this clash? Given their hopes of winning the cup are slim, they may rest their big names to focus on the relegation battle. The Magpies are only a point above the drop zone, which should scare them into making changes here. After all, Mike Ashley’s board did once come out and link cup success to relegation for smaller clubs, so they aren’t likely to be desperate for a cup run,

Newcastle Form

The visitors haven’t got a great record of late, as they’re hanging just above the bottom three in the top flight. They’ve got a side comprised of Championship players, which does make them look a little out of their depth, as they did last weekend when they lost 3-1 away to Man City.

Newcastle have just two victories from their last 10 away, and those came against West Ham and Stoke – two of the league’s biggest strugglers. They’ve lost away to every top half side they’ve travelled to this season, and they have one point from their 11 meetings with the top 10 sides overall this term.

Chelsea v Newcastle Head to Head

Chelsea have had the upper hand against Newcastle in recent meetings, winning their last two on the spin. They’ve won their last five meetings at home with the Magpies, and that run is expected to continue when they visit on Sunday. Having scored 15 goals across their last five games at home to the Toon Army, it’s probably worth backing a high scoring tie here.

  • Chelsea 3-1 Newcastle, Dec 2017
  • Chelsea 5-1 Newcastle, Feb 2016
  • Newcastle 2-2 Chelsea, September 2015
  • Chelsea 2-0 Newcastle, Jan 2015
  • Newcastle 2-1 Chelsea, Dec 2014

Betting Tips

  • Chelsea to win and over 2.5 goals – 10/11 with Betfair
  • Eden Hazard to score anytime – Evens with BetVictor

Chelsea come into this clash as heavy favourites to progress, you can back them at 2/5 with Betfred. Meanwhile, the visitors are priced at 13/2 with Coral to be victorious. The draw is priced at betting odds of 10/3 with Ladbrokes, although that’s the last thing Chelsea need. With extra fixtures this season already putting strain on the squad, they’re struggling to cope with the demands of the season as it is. Adding yet another cup replay to the mix is not something that would exactly please Conte and his team right now.

Luckily, the Blues are facing a poor Newcastle side who are in awful form on their travels. We can’t see them suddenly turning around their form against the top sides with a result here, especially as Conte is likely to include Eden Hazard out of necessity. We expect a strong performance up front from the Blues, who regained their attacking swagger with a 4-0 win over another promoted side, Brighton, last weekend. With that in mind, we’re going for a home win and over 2.5 match goals as our first tip here, which can be backed at odds of 10/11 with Betfair.

Hazard has proved to be so vital for Chelsea in recent weeks, as he was the main focal point in attack in midweek. Brighton gave him space to roam last weekend, and he punished them as a result. He should play in an advanced role here once again, and we’re backing the Belgian to make an impact against the Magpies. He tormented them last month when the sides last met, and he scored twice in that game. That has us backing him to score again this weekend, and he’s priced at evens with BetVictor to find the net.

Arsenal v Chelsea Betting Tips (EFL Cup) – 24th January 2018

Chelsea head for the Emirates on Wednesday night, as they go in search of a place in the EFL Cup final. It’s fair to say that January has been far from the ideal month for the Blues, but they come in to this clash just 90 minutes away from yet another trip to Wembley. Can they manage to see off their London rivals in this big clash and take a big step towards adding some extra silverware to the cabinet this season?

This has got to be a big game for Antonio Conte, who will be aiming to win a domestic cup for the first time in his glittering career. It’s fair to say that the Italian has a fairly spiky relationship with both Arsenal and Arsene Wenger, so getting one over on the Gunners would be a big boost for him. This clash also sees the Blues boss facing another encounter with his newest rival – VAR. Having seen an incredible game last Wednesday decided by the new technology, the former Juve boss is likely to be pushing for video replays which he’ll hope will send his side into another cup final.

Team News: Conte Adds Firepower as Spaniards Return with Suspensions Served

Antonio Conte welcomes back two of his key forwards, just in time for the Blues to boost their attacking prospects. Losing Alvaro Morata and Pedro for the weekend was a blow given how poor the champions have been going forward of late, but the pair are back in line for a start at the Emirates. It’s hard to say if Pedro will get the nod on the wing, as the Italian could retain the 3-5-2 system he likes in these big trips. While that offers a little more security, it doesn’t seem to swarm opposition defences, which is what brought the title back to the Bridge last season.

Arsenal are enjoying a bit of a fire sale at the moment, but they’re not exactly looking stronger due to their January deals. Wenger’s stubborn choice to stick with David Ospina in goal during cup games could cost him, as he’s set to take the place of Petr Cech for this big game. You’d think that they’d settle on going with their first choice keeper in a tie like this, but those slight tweaks could be what ultimately stops the Gunners from making the final.

Arsenal Form

The Gunners must be thankful for their meetings with Chelsea, as they’ve saved their 2018 so far. Arsenal have had an awful couple of weeks in the New Year, and they seem vulnerable heading into this meeting based on their recent defeats. While they’ve had two draws with the Blues in January, those were both followed by damaging defeats.

The Gunners exited the FA Cup in the Third Round, losing 4-2 against Nottingham Forest. Having lost at Bournemouth this month in a shambolic display, it’s been far from comfortable viewing for Arsenal fans. When you mix in the January transfer window as well, you can see why the anger with Wenger is starting to rise again, although recently he’s dealt with that by pulling off a result against Chelsea.

Arsenal v Chelsea Head to Head

These two sides meet for the third time this month, and for the eighth time since Conte took charge back in July 2016. That’s a frequent set of encounters, and they’ve all basically gone the same way of late. The Gunners struck late to win May’s FA Cup final, and since then the pair have drawn every meeting. The one worrying thing is that Conte has claimed one victory against Wenger since taking charge, and that’s something he needs to change this week.

  • Chelsea 0-0 Arsenal, Jan 2018
  • Arsenal 2-2 Chelsea Jan 2018
  • Chelsea 0-0 Arsenal, Sept 2017
  • Arsenal 1-1 Chelsea, Aug 2017
  • Arsenal 2-1 Chelsea, May 2017

Betting Tips

  • Chelsea to win – 6/5 with BetVictor
  • Chelsea and Under 2.5 Goals – 5/1 with Betfair

Chelsea may be away from home, but they’re favourites for this second leg. The Gunners seem to have been written off here, having been priced up at 23/10 with Ladbrokes for their home leg. Meanwhile, the Blues are being backed as 6/5 favourites with BetVictor. Given the recent history of draws between these two, you can back this one to finish level at 12/5 with Coral. That would obviously send the clash to extra-time, which the visitors are being backed to win. The Blues are priced at 4/7 with Betfred to qualify by any means, so they’re clearly fancied to shake off their problems going forward when they visit the Gunners.

There are so many problems surrounding Arsenal right now that it seems to have driven up their price. Losing players, matches and hope of silverware is really damaging morale around the club. A defeat here could leave them focusing on the Europa League – a competition which Wenger has refused to take seriously so far. However, it does feel like a typical Arsenal thing to do to crumble at this point, especially given how close they were to losing to Chelsea at the Emirates earlier this month. We think Conte’s Blues can get the job done here, so we’re backing an away win at 6/5 with BetVictor.

The Blues do have some issues up front, and that’s bound to come up again in this tense clash. We still expect the visitors to get the three points, but we can’t see this being an open tie. The recent meetings between these two have been low scoring, and Conte is likely to be relying on his defence given the form of the forwards, and that counts double if he does stick with the 3-5-2 set-up. As a result, our second tip on this semi-final is to back an away win and under 2.5 goals at 5/1 with Betfair.