Expect the goals to flow

  • By: Andy Schooler
  • Last Updated: November 7 2012, 19:25 GMT

With Chelsea and Man Utd shaky at the back, our Andy Schooler expects goals in the Champions League on Wednesday.

Chelsea's defence is far from sold these days

If you'd have said at the start of the season that Chelsea would be a point off the pace in the Premier League after 10 games, I'd have thought most Blues fans would have taken that.

The summer signings of Eden Hazard and Oscar have proved an undoubted success, while Juan Mata seems to have been lifted by their arrival.

Yet despite what is arguably a better-than-expected start to the campaign, it is clear that the reigning European champions are far from the finished article.

They've looked shaky to say the least when the quality of their opponents has increased - and that is worth noting when Shakhtar Donetsk arrive at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday night.

Manchester City put three past them in the Community Shield and Atletico Madrid banged in four in the Super Cup.

More recently Manchester United beat them 3-2 (and also put four past them in the League Cup) and while controversy reigned in that league contest, what was particularly worrying was the ease in which Chelsea's defence was cut apart early on.

Clearly it is at the back where the main problems lie and where the better sides are finding more than just a chink in the armour.

In the middle, John Terry, free from suspension in this competition, is not the player he was, while David Luiz continues to baffle on a regular basis.

At full-back they can be vulnerable as Branislav Ivanovic and Ashley Cole love to raid deep into opposition territory and don't seem to get the cover they once did.

The issues have also been highlighted in the Champions League.

The Blues could easily have lost to Juventus in their last home game in the competition, one which ended 2-2, while in Donetsk two weeks ago Shakhtar caused their back-line a whole host of problems.

Chelsea lost 2-1 but it could have been more with Willian showing why he is being courted by Premier League clubs and his fellow attackers such as Fernandinho and Alex Teixeira always looking a threat.

The position of the casual punter appears to be that Shakhtar are not the same side on their travels but while there is some truth to that the stats show that they have actually won six of their last 11 away games in the competition proper.

We're not looking to back them to win at the Bridge - although they may well have their backers at 3/1 - but do feel they will score.

They've managed to do so in every single game so far this season. In fact, they've won every game bar one - a draw with Juventus in this competition.

No matter what you think of the strength of the Ukrainian league, that's an impressive record and clearly they are full of confidence right now.

With Chelsea's attack strong - they've only been shutout once this season - both teams to score looks the way to go.

Even at 4/6 this looks a solid play based on how both sides have performed this campaign.

Manchester United are also in action - away to Braga - and I can say much the same about them as I have about Chelsea.

They've struggled to keep teams out but have managed to score enough goals to win the majority of their games.

A lengthy defensive injury list can be blamed for many of their problems, many of which were shown up by their Portuguese opponents at Old Trafford.

On that occasion Braga led 2-0 before easing off and allowing United a way back into the game. They duly took advantage and finished 3-2 winners.

They are 11/8 to win this reverse fixture - a tempting price.

However, I'm going to attack from a different angle.

It's interesting to note that of United's 12 wins this season, nine have been by the odd goal. A similar outcome here is 10/3 with Ladbrokes.

My way of boosting that price is to 'dutch' the 2-1 and 3-2 correct scorelines.

United were unable to keep continental teams out last season and the current campaign has had familiar failings - it's just that United have still managed to win games this time around. They currently have nine points from nine and a point here will see them into the knockout phase.

With seven of United's last 11 away wins in the Champions League also being by a single goal, the 2-1 and 3-2 picks look better value at 17/2 and 25/1 respectively.

Celtic are the other British team in action - they host Barcelona who are once again heavily odds-on despite struggling to a 2-1 victory in the Nou Camp.

1/3 is the best out there about an away win at Parkhead - acca fodder only.

Celtic are 19/2 for a shock victory but even on home soil it's hard to see anything but a game dominated by Barca possession again.

Few teams manage to hold out as long as Celtic did under such circumstances - a more comfortable night seems the most likely outcome in Glasgow.

Draw-Barcelona in the half time/full time market may offer some value given how things unfolded two weeks ago, but I'm sticking to bets in the other games.


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