George Pitts expects Chelsea to return to winning ways as they look to mount a late top four charge, with two best bets to consider for Sunday's clash.
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Cardiff City v Chelsea (1405 GMT kick-off)
- Sky Sports Premier League, Cardiff City Stadium
Sunday's first Premier League game sees two sides who are desperate for points meet in South Wales, but for much different reasons.
Cardiff go into the weekend 18th in the table, but with a game in hand that would take them above Burnley should be win.
That means if the Bluebirds miraculously win their eight remaining games then safety would be guaranteed. But they have not been on a run like that at all this season and they still have to play Chelsea, Man City, Liverpool and Man United - so it is fair to say that will not be happening.
Throw injuries into the equation and that tells you the mountain Neil Warnock has to climb between now and the end of the season to retain City's Premier League status. Key man Sol Bamba was ruled out for the campaign at the start of the month, while first-team forward Calum Paterson injured his ankle on international duty with Scotland, also ending his season.
From international woe for Cardiff to success for Chelsea, whose starlet Callum Hudson-Odoi impressed on his first England start. Despite calls from Blues fans though, the Italian boss still appears reluctant to start the winger in the Premier League.
He may not want to take that risk here as Chelsea look to bounce back from their defeat at Everton two weeks ago, which would keep them within touching distance of the top four.
Prediction: Cardiff 0-3 Chelsea (Sky Bet odds: 17/2)
Warnock's side have performed well at times in front of their own fans this season, but injuries have not been kind to the Bluebirds and they face a tough run of fixtures with Chelsea and Man City to play in the space of four days. Cardiff are looking more and more destined for the drop, while Chelsea desperately need a win to keep their top four hopes alive. Without Paterson in the final third, the hosts may struggle to find the back of the net.
Best bet: Chelsea to score in both halves at 13/10
Sarri's side have scored in both halves in 15 of their Premier League games this term, a goal either side of the interval is a realistic option when we expect the visitors to dominate and win fairly convincingly, so the price is an appealing way to go if you want to back a Chelsea win of some sorts.
Goals/Stats: Pedro to score anytime at 21/10
One that may be worth holding until the team sheets are out to see if he starts. Despite pressure from the outside, Sarri seems to be stubborn on Hudson-Odoi and it looks like Pedro could be given the nod over Willian to start in Wales. A general price of over 2/1 for the Spanish forward, likely to be part of the front three, looks good considering only Eden Hazard and Olivier Giroud have scored more than him in the league for Chelsea this term. He has nine goals to his name, averages nearly two shots per game and can get the better of this Cardiff defence.
- Cardiff have lost all three of their Premier League matches against Chelsea, with their only previous meeting at the Cardiff City Stadium coming in May 2014, losing 1-2.
- Chelsea have won seven of their last nine matches against Cardiff in all competitions (D1 L1), with their only defeat in this sequence coming at Ninian Park in the League Cup third round in October 1986 under John Hollins.
- Cardiff City have won 71% of their Premier League points this season in home games (20/28) – only Fulham have a higher percentage (88%).
- Chelsea have lost only one of their 17 Premier League games against Welsh opposition (W12 D4), losing 0-1 at Swansea City in April 2016 under Guus Hiddink.
- Cardiff have lost their last 16 Premier League games against the ‘big six’ sides, last avoiding defeat in November 2013, drawing 2-2 against Manchester United.
- Coming into this matchday, only Fulham (6) have lost more away Premier League games in 2019 than Chelsea, with the Blues losing four of their five games on the road so far.
- Chelsea have already lost against Wolves this season – they’ve not lost against two different promoted sides in a single Premier League season since 2012-13 (vs West Ham and Southampton).
- Neil Warnock has faced Chelsea four times at home in the top-flight, each time with a different club; he won in 1991-92 and 2010-11 (with Notts County and QPR respectively) and lost in 2006-07 and 2014-15 (with Sheffield United and Crystal Palace respectively).
- Chelsea’s Eden Hazard has scored five Premier League goals in three appearances against Cardiff City, although all his goals have come at Stamford Bridge; no player has more Premier League goals against the Bluebirds than Hazard (Gerard Deulofeu and Luis Suárez also five).
- Chelsea’s Gonzalo Higuain has scored three goals in his seven Premier League games so far, with all of them coming against teams in the relegation zone (2 vs Huddersfield, 1 vs Fulham).
Odds correct as of 1530 GMT on 29/03/19