Chelsea return to Premier League action on Saturday, as they welcome Neil Warnock’s Cardiff to Stamford Bridge. The newly promoted side have had a mixed start to their first season back in the big time. Typically for Warnock, his team just don’t look up to the level required to survive in the top flight. Will that bring another victory for a Chelsea side who have a 100% record to their name so far?
A flying start has made the Blues one of the early pacesetters in the Premier League, sitting alongside Liverpool and Watford on 12 points. The three sides will be pushing to continue those perfect starts, especially a Blues outfit who were tipped to struggle. Even manager Maurizio Sarri thought that the first five or six games would be tough in a new system. He could start with a five game winning streak if they can brush aside the Bluebirds in Saturday’s clash.
Team News: Sarri to Ignore Options and Keep Faith
There should be a lot for Sarri to consider in his team selection here, but he’s expected to keep faith with his first 11. Many of those stars have played around the globe this week, while the Blues return to European action on Thursday. Their Europa League clash with PAOK should bring changes to the starting 11, which allows Sarri to field his strongest side here, as they go in hunt of a fifth straight victory. Unfortunately, that doesn’t have any room for Ruben Loftus-Cheek, who seems frustrated by his lack of playing time.
Cesc Fabregas is the only real concern for Sarri here, with the Spanish midfielder slowly returning to fitness. That gives the Italian boss a full squad to pick from for a busy week, but he has little to think about when it comes to team selection. His only real worry is which winger completes the front three, with Willian challenging Pedro for a first team start this weekend. However, the Spaniard’s direct play looks like a perfect match for the man who got so much out of inside forwards Lorenzo Insigne and Jose Callejon at Napoli.
Cardiff head here with both Nathaniel Mendez-Laing and Aron Gunnarsson ruled out. They’re likely to start with a straightforward 4-4-2 system, which doesn’t inspire much fear from the Blues. Instead of trying to pinpoint a weakness in Sarri’s style, the Bluebirds are likely to just dig in and try to hold off the Blues, but they’re unlikely to have much answer for the hosts’ impressive movement.
The visitors make this trip searching for their first win since getting back to the top flight. They came close to claiming a result at home to Arsenal just before the international break, but the Gunners claimed a 3-2 win in the Welsh capital. The hosts won’t be expecting to make such hard work of this game. Unai Emery’s side let Cardiff in on too many occasions, making that clash much more difficult than it should have been.
Cardiff started their season with a loss at Bournemouth, while they claimed a point away at Huddersfield in their other away trip. With two points from four games they sit just above the drop zone in the Premier League, with a relegation battle likely for Warnock’s men this season. On top of that slow start, they have already lost to Championship opposition in the EFL Cup, which sees them come here on the back of consecutive defeats and with questionable morale.
Chelsea v Cardiff Head to Head
There have only been two recent league meetings between these two. Jose Mourinho led the Blues to home and away wins over Cardiff in his first season back at the club. Meanwhile, Carlo Ancelotti saw off the Bluebirds back in 2010 as his men moved to pick up the league and cup double. Sarri will be hoping that a win over the Welsh side will propel his team on to similar success in the future.
- Cardiff 1-2 Chelsea, May 2014
- Chelsea 4-1 Cardiff, Oct 2013
- Chelsea 4-1 Cardiff, Feb 2010
- Chelsea 2-3 Cardiff, Sept 1961
- Cardiff 5-2 Chelsea, Sept 1961
- Chelsea to win to nil – 20/23 with BetVictor
- Pedro to score any time – 7/5 with bet365
Chelsea are widely backed for another win, as they’re 2/11 with Betfair to see off the Bluebirds. Meanwhile, the visitors are 18/1 with Ladbrokes, and the draw sits out at 6/1 with Coral. It’s hard to argue with those prices, given that the Blues are out to continue their perfect start against a Cardiff side who are struggling against top class opposition. Does that suggest that we’re going to see a rout when these two clash on Saturday?
The bookies have also slashed the odds on over 2.5 goals this weekend, which suggests that they see the Chelsea attack being busy. However, they were much more restrained against Bournemouth in their last game, which brought them a much needed clean sheet. They have been crying out for some defensive stability, and with a settled back four they should improve over the coming weeks and months. They will expect little trouble from a side who have yet to score on the road, and have found the net in just one of their first four games. That has us backing a home win to nil at 20/23 with BetVictor.
We also like the look of Pedro to make an impact here. As we mentioned, the Spaniard is on the right track to success under Sarri, and is set to get a starting position for this weekend’s game. He found the back of the net against Bournemouth last time out, and we’re tipping the winger for success in this clash. While the likes of Eden Hazard and Alvaro Morata are odds-on to score, Pedro is great value at 7/5 with bet365.