If you cast your mind back to Monday May 3, 2016, you might just remember that Chelsea ended Tottenham’s hopes of a first Premier League title by stealing a point from their encounter at Stamford Bridge. That result would ultimately complete Leicester City’s bizarre ascent to champion status.
Fast forward the best part of a year and we see a similar storyline being played out on Wednesday evening. Chelsea, the hunter now becoming the hunted, will all but seal their first Premier League title under Antonio Conte’ leadership if they can defeat Manchester City at the Bridge. If Pep Guardiola’s side can take home the three points, they will hand plenty of initiative to….yep, you guessed it, Tottenham.
Is the scene set for the ultimate tale of revenge and redemption?
Match Winner Betting Tips
When these two teams met at the City of Manchester Stadium back in December, it’s fair to say that City played Chelsea off the park. They enjoyed nearly two-thirds of possession and created countless chances, but the Blues were exceptional on the counter attack and goals from Diego Costa, Willian and Eden Hazard completed an unlikely victory and confirmed what we already suspected: this Chelsea side are the real deal under Antonio Conte.
The roles will be reversed at Stamford Bridge, with Chelsea’s supporters expecting their side to play on the front foot more than they did in the reverse fixture. With the likes of Raheem Sterling, Leroy Sane and Sergio Aguero in their ranks, City’s pace on the counter could be deadly.
We have to wonder how Saturday’s 1-2 defeat to Crystal Palace will have affected Conte’s side. They weren’t outplayed and did deserve something from the game, but will the psychology be ‘let’s go and have a reaction’ or ‘maybe we’re not invincible’? The difference between the two mindsets is stratospheric.
But City will have their own mind games to overcome. They have lost four times away from home against decent opposition this term; Tottenham (0-2), Leicester (2-4), Liverpool (0-1) and Everton (0-4). Indeed, Manchester City’s record against top six teams this term reads W2 D4 L4, so it is hard to have any real confidence in them on Wednesday.
Assuming that Chelsea’s psychology is one of instant retribution, rather than fear, following the weekend defeat, they should have enough to get past a Man City outfit that clearly struggles against the Premier League’s big boys. As such, the 7/5 available on a Chelsea victory is excellent value.
You just sense that the advantage Chelsea had when switching to a 3-4-3 formation – it was a system very rarely seen in English football up until this point – has just started to dissipate. Yes their results remain excellent, but they have conceded in each of their last seven league games; compared to a run of ten clean sheets in twelve starts earlier in the campaign.
Conseqeuntly, Manchester City’s attacking players will be licking their lips in anticipation of the trip to London.
But their defenders….well, less so. Much has been made of Pep Guardiola’s stubbornness in sticking with the likes of Claudio Bravo and John Stones, but the facts speak for themselves: they have kept just eight league clean sheets this term, and only two against sides from the top half of the division. That is why they simply aren’t winning as many matches as they really ought to.
All of the above feeds rather nicely into the Over 2.5 Goals and Both Teams to Score market; available here at 11/10. That seems a princely price given the woes of the two teams.
And to go full circle: cometh the hour, cometh the man. Eden Hazard shot down Spurs’ title hopes last season, and he will be looking to boost Chelsea’s here with a sparkling performance. With City so poor at the back against elite opposition, the Belgian must be fancied in the Anytime Goalscorer market at 19/10.