Blues to cruise at the Bridge
Ben Coley previews Sunday's action in the Barclays Premier League and fancies Chelsea to beat Manchester United.
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We've been extolling the virtues of backing Tottenham away from home for a while now, but this time the price looks just about right and we'll leave them alone. It's not all that long ago that we were able to take upwards of 2/1 about them winning at Southampton and this similar test sees them priced considerably shorter at 11/8. That being said, it's easy to see them edging an entertaining game at the Liberty Stadium. Swansea haven't been at their best at home this season with just two wins in the league, but their fixtures look to get easier and it's not impossible that they could match last year's tally of six; they'll do well to better their record of just five defeats, however, having lost four already. I digress slightly but the point is they're not all that tempting at the price given this season's figures. What they have done, however, is troubled the better sides in attack. Swansea lost 3-2 to Manchester City, 2-1 to Everton, 4-1 to Manchester United, 2-1 to Arsenal and drew 2-2 with Liverpool. Tottenham's new attacking approach therefore points me towards both teams to score at a shade of odds-on, but I'll go a step further and take evens about over 2.5 goals. Spurs' last four away games - which include two under Tim Sherwood - have been winners in this market and it's clear to me that both sides are at their best in the final third. Expect Swansea to dominate possession and take a chance or two, but fail to contain Tottenham's lightning-quick counter-attacks in an entertaining game.
Verdict: Swansea 2 Tottenham 2
The Liberty Stadium has seen more second half goals than any other Premier League stadium this season (24)
Under Andre Villas-Boas, Tottenham had the lowest conversion rate in the Premier League (7%) but in the period under Tim Sherwood they have the highest rate in the division (23%).
This season, Tottenham have averaged 2.2 goals per Premier League game under Sherwood, compared to 0.94 under AVB.
Chelsea are a shade of odds-on to put an end to any vague hopes Manchester United may harbour of defending their Premier League title, and it's hard to argue with such an assessment from the layers. Jose Mourinho's unbeaten home record remains intact - albeit somewhat fortuitously - and only Manchester City sit above Chelsea in the home form table. That Chelsea have beaten both City and Liverpool at home also tells a story and the concern for United fans is that so far their only good result against a top-four team came when they beat an out-of-sorts Arsenal at Old Trafford. They were thumped at City, deservedly beaten at Liverpool and arguably a tad fortunate to hold Chelsea to a draw in the reverse fixture. I seriously question whether David Moyes - likeable man though he is - has enough about him to compete with the likes of Jose Mourinho at this stage in his career and learning on the job is providing difficult. As such I find it hard to look beyond a home win here despite the fact that only Everton have lost fewer away games than United. It's also possible that Moyes will be without Wayne Rooney, Patrice Evra, Phil Jones and one or two others, and I'd expect Chelsea to be able to keep the admittedly in-form Danny Welbeck at bay and win well. Instead of taking 4/5, though, I'm prepared to go closer to the 2/1 mark about Chelsea winning at half-time and full-time. Although the Blues have had to exercise patience on the road of late, they've led at the break in their last four at home as well as when City were beaten at Stamford Bridge. United's first-half performances have been tentative all season and a ruthless Chelsea side can stamp their authority early.
Verdict: Chelsea 2 Manchester United 0
Manchester United have failed to score in their last three games against Chelsea in all competitions.
David Moyes has never won away from home to one of the Premier League's traditional big four - Manchester United, Chelsea, Liverpool or Arsenal (P47 W0 D18 L29).
There have been 21 goals scored in the last four matches between Chelsea and Manchester United at Stamford Bridge.