Chelsea v Huddersfield Wednesday 9 May, 19:45 Live on Sky Sports
Champions League dreams still alive for Chelsea
After a miserable run of eight Premier League games that saw Chelsea lose five, draw one and win just two- at home to Crystal Palace and West Brom - Champions League action next season looked an absolute impossibility for the Blues as they trailed 2-0 away at Southampton with 20 minutes to go but an Olivier Giroud inspired comeback appears to have turn their fortunes around completely.
Chelsea scored three goals in eight minutes to steal all three points form the Saints at St Mary's and since then they've won away at both Burnley and Swansea before besting Liverpool 1-0 at home on Sunday. They can still be backed at 4.80to finish inside the top-four so highly likely to miss out but they've given themselves a chance that appeared extremely unlikely less than a month ago.
The Blues rode their luck a bit for half an hour on Saturday and Giroud's winning goal on 32 minutes came slightly against the run of play but they're now looking to win theyr'e fifth game in-a-row for the first time this season.
Well-organised Terriers may prove tough to break down again
Champions Manchester City may not have been at their best at a sun-drenched Etihad on Sunday but it was impossible to fault Huddersfield's organisation and application and they fully deserved their point. They were just the third team all season to come away from East Manchester with something other than a beating and it was the first time City had failed to score in the Premier League in 21 home ties.
An awful lot will depend on Tuesday night's crunch game between Swansea and Southampton (previewed here by Paul Robinson) but the Terriers are certainly not safe yet and they can be backed for the drop at just6.00. Swansea are at home to Stoke on the final day of the season and the Saints entertain the champions, City, so although Sunday's brilliant performance has given the Terriers a great chance to survive the drop, with a terrible goal difference, they're far from out of the woods given their last game is at home to an in-form Arsenal side that will be hell-bent on sending Arsene Wenger off with a win.
Sunday's game against the Gunners at the John Smith's Stadium could be every bit as tough as this one so David Wagner will be impressing upon his side just how important it will be to recreate the blueprint fashioned at the Etihad.
Chelsea too short at long odds-on
Chelsea are on a roll and logic would suggest a team that can beat the Champions League finalists, should be able to beat Premier League strugglers, that have picked up just 13 points on the road all season, with ease just three days later. The marketcertainly suggests that's the case with the Blues trading at a prohibitive 1.19 but I wouldn't want to go diving in at those sort of odds.
Looking at their last four wins, it's possible to suggest the fixture list has been somewhat kind of late. Southampton capitulated appallingly at St Mary's, Burnley have since drawn with Stoke and Brighton and were hammered by Arsenal on Sunday, Swansea haven't won since March 3 and Liverpool are clearly distracted by their European campaign. Prior to Sunday's narrow defeat at the Bridge, Liverpool had failed to beat West Brom and Stoke.
Having gone on their best run of the campaign, Chelsea could be starting to feel comfortable but if they turn up with any sort of complacency against Huddersfield and the Terriers are as well-drilled and hard-working as they were at the Etihad, three points is by no means a given and long odds-on players with have a very nervy night.
Laying Chelsea at around the 1/5 mark is an appealing option but with the Sportsbook going a best price 7/1 about the draw and a best price 20/1 about the away side, I'm happy to take them on that way but a cover bet on Chelsea to win 1-0 for the game in-a-row at 7/1 looks a sensible play too.
Everything points to a low-scoring affair
Chelsea have only scored more than twice in four of their 18 home games to date this season, so they're hardly prolific, and Huddersfield have failed to score in 20 of their 36 Premier League games. And they've failed to score in 13 of their 18 away from home.
The average number of goals scored and conceded at Stamford Bridge this season is only 2.44 and the average number of goals scored and conceded when Huddersfield have played away is just 2.39.
Only 44% of Chelsea's home games have seen three or more goals scored and Huddersfield away games have yielded three or more only 39% of the time so under 2 ½ Goals at around the2.50 on the Exchange looks decent enough and the 8/5 with the Sportsbook looks a cracking price.
Given both teams have scored in just 16 of Chelsea's 36 Premier League ties (44%) and in only 11 of Huddersfield's 36 (31%), the 4/6 about No in the Both Teams to Score market looks about right and anything around1.75 on the Exchange will be worth considering.
Lee Mason, who takes charge on Wednesday night is one of the more restrained refs when it comes to yellow cards. He issued six when Huddersfield beat Manchester United back in October and that's the most he's brandished in the Premier League this season, where he's averaged just 2.44 yellows per game, but in a particularly heated League Cup tie just before Christmas between Chelsea and Bournemouth he issued eight, pushing his average in all comps up slightly to 2.75.