WEST HAM vs CHELSEA
SUNDAY, 4.00PM SKY SPORTS 1
THE Premier League has been something of a baptism of fire for Gianfranco Zola and he has certainly suffered more than his fair share of bad luck. Financial crises and key injuries have caused big problems for the Hammers and the way they capitulated at Bolton on Tuesday night will be of major concern to the Italian.
Zola won’t be expecting an easy ride from his former club, or fellow countryman Carlo Ancelotti, but will be desperate to stop his side’s leaky defence. West Ham have conceded more goals at home this season than any other team – two or more in seven of their eight at Upton Park. However, Chelsea’s normally tight backline have also been struggling recently – shedding 10 goals in their last five games across all competitions and only winning one of those.
Ancelotti was pleased to get a much needed win against Portsmouth on Wednesday, but is obviously worried that his side conceded two goals from set pieces against Everton at the weekend. That may be something Zola will try to exploit, but there is little doubt that the West Londoners should have too much firepower at the other end of the field. Only Man United and Arsenal have scored more goals on the road than Chelsea this campaign and they have won all of their last four visits to the Boleyn Ground, scoring 12 goals in the process.
Sporting Index have understandably pitched their total goals spread at a high 3-3.2, but they could still be picked off by the buyers. There have been an average of 4.25 goals per game at Upton Park so far this season and Chelsea’s last six across all competitions have produced 23 goals.
The Blues have had problems during the festive period in recent seasons but, against a struggling Hammers side, I can see them going to town in the second half. They have won all of their last five away games at bottom-half sides when losing their previous away game. The half-time / full-time Chelsea victory at EVS with Boylesports looks good, as does a buy of goals and Chelsea’s supremacy with Sporting Index.
Zola’s side have only scored one goal in their last three games and are struggling without striker Carlton Cole. They have also taken just one point from their last eight home contests against the Big Four and lost nine of their last 16 home and away.
Chelsea HT / FT at EVS with Boylesports
Buy Chelsea supremacy at 1.5 with Sporting Index
Buy total match goals at 3.2 with Sporting Index
ARSENAL vs HULL CITY
TOMORROW, 5.30PM ESPN
HULL fans will never forget their trip to the Emirates last season when they humiliated the hosts with a 2-1 victory. Those three points meant they survived in the end, but although they have only lost one of their last five league games, another relegation battle looks a certainty.
Arsene Wenger believed his side were firmly back in the title race after Sunday’s win at Liverpool, but suffered a blow when only taking a point at Burnley on Wednesday. He will want to banish the memory of last season’s defeat against the Tigers and although Arsenal lost their last game at the Emirates to Chelsea, they have won their other six by an average winning margin of three goals. Crucially, four of those came against current bottom-half teams.
Only Burnley have a worse away record than Hull and two points from a possible 24 is a measly return. The loss of Jimmy Bullard was a big blow to the Tigers last season and with him now out for another indefinite spell, they could be in big trouble. Mick McCarthy rested most of his first XI at Old Trafford in midweek and it remains to be seen how seriously Phil Brown takes this one.
I’m of the opinion that Arsenal can go to town on this bunch, so I’ll be buying their supremacy at 2.1 with Sporting Index.
It also wouldn’t surprise me to see the Tigers in serious trouble come the end of January. Their next six games see them play Man United twice, Chelsea, Tottenham and of course, Arsenal. They are as short as 4/9 with Hills and a best-priced 4/7 on Betdaq for the drop and I can see them trading a whole lot shorter than that in a few weeks.
Arsenal HT / FT at 4/7 on Betdaq
Buy Arsenal supremacy at 2.1 with Sporting Index
Buy total match goals at 3.4 with Sporting Index
Hull to be relegated at 4/7 on Betdaq