Blues all set to bounce back
Our tipster David John is strong on the chances of Chelsea when they host Steaua Bucharest in the Europa League on Thursday.
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While English hopes, at the time of writing, look like being extinguished for the season in the Champions League, the Europa League is a thriving cottage industry with Newcastle and Chelsea all well capable of progressing through another round on Thursday.
It is the latter who look the best punting prospect when they host Steaua Bucharest at Stamford Bridge with a one-goal deficit to make up from the first leg in Romania.
That match was far from compelling viewing but Raul Rusescu's first-half penalty was enough to give Steaua the upper hand and us a winning bet.
But back in London, I strongly fancy Chelsea to turn things around with a measure of comfort and think they will prove far too good on the night.
Their performance last week was distinctly lacklustre.
Rafa Benitez picked an understrength team with one eye very much on the FA Cup tie with Manchester United so it was little surprise to see a laboured effort.
That said, they may still have nicked a draw if Yossi Benayoun had shown a bit more confidence with his chance before the break so Benitez will be more than happy that his side have just that solitary goal to make up.
I think the crucial aspect to the tie could be Steaua's lack of attacking intent.
Despite home advantage and some nice delivery down the left from wing-back Iasmin Latovlevici, Steaua never really looked like separating themselves from Chelsea with a second goal from open play.
Bearing that in mind, I can't see the hosts having too many problems keeping a clean sheet while a repeat of the endeavour shown in Sunday's spirited fightback at Old Trafford should ensure that the Blues score enough goals to make qualification straightforward.
Chelsea (-1) on the handicap at 11/10 with Sky Bet looks absolutely watertight while I will throw some loose change at a 3-0 home success too in a bid to ensure a very tidy profit on the night.
Newcastle do look to be going the right way now under Alan Pardew following the influx of French players to boost the squad and the goalless draw in a frigid Moscow against Anzhi was highly commendable.
The latter are much better than that effort and I would not be surprised to see them in a more positive light on Tyneside - but I am happy to remain on the sidelines from a betting perspective in this one.
- The Chelsea match is being televised live in the UK on ITV. The Newcastle match is on ESPN.