Chelsea v Burnley Monday, 20:00 Live on Sky Spors Main Event/Premier League
Fortress Stamford Bridge... against the weaker teams
Chelsea's quest for a Top 4 Finish continues with a home game against rejuvenated Burnley on Monday night, and it's at Stamford Bridge where the Blues have excelled this seasonagainst the Premier League's lesser lights.
Maurizio Sarri's men have so far played nine home games against the division's current bottom 10, winning eight and drawing one (0-0 against Southampton). Their aggregate scoreline in such games is 23-3 and they've managed six clean sheets in that spell, never once conceding more than one in a game.
But delve a little further and it's apparent that against weaker teams Chelsea really are dominant at Stamford Bridge. They've won all six home games in the Europa League and they've won four out of four domestic cup games on home soil against clubs in the bottom half of the Premier League or in a lower division.
That gives Sarri's men an extremely impressive 'P19, W18, D1, L0' portfolio at the Bridge against clubs we can class as being no better than a bottom half Premier League outfit.
It may seem a bit odd then that the Blues have lost a total of seven games in 2019 already, but with six of those defeats being on their travels and the other being at home to a bang in-form Manchester United side, then for the purpose of this preview it's simple to ignore Chelsea's away form and concentrate purely on what they do at the Bridge.
Stubborn Clarets almost safe
You've got to hand it to Burnley. They didn't win a single game inside 90 minutes until they thrashed Bournemouth 4-0 in their 12th game of the season (all competitions), and following an away win at Cardiff in their very next Premier League game Sean Dyche's men would win just one of their next dozen matches.
Yet going into Monday night's game at Chelsea the Clarets are almost certain to avoid the drop, sitting 15th in the table, eight points - effectively nine given their superior goal difference - above the relegation zone.
A run of eight league games without defeat from around the turn of the year was the foundation for Burnley's climb up the table and Dyche's men have bounced back from another poor spell of results by winning their last three matches.
The gaffer will be telling his players that they require at least one more win to be absolutely certain of playing Premier League football next season, so that guarantees that Burnley will arrive at Stamford Bridge not only in good form and a confident mood, but also ready to roll up their sleeves and dig in.
The problem however is that away from home the Clarets have only won at Huddersfield, Cardiff, Brighton and Bournemouth this season, three of the bottom four in the table and against a Cherries side in poor form. Away to other 'big six' clubs this term they've conceded five at Man City (twice), four at Liverpool, three at Arsenal, and two at Manchester United.
A home win likely but odds are cramped
Having talked up Chelsea's excellent home form in similar-type games to Monday night's encounter, and spoke about Burnley's poor away form, especially to the better teams, then you'd think I'd be recommending the home win as an absolutely banker.
I have no problems saying that I think Sarri's men will collect all three points, but at just1.26 to back it's not a price that I think we should be getting carried away with. Burnley in their current mood are more than capable of making this an uncomfortable evening for the Blues, just like they did when they won 3-2 here last season and ground out a 1-1 draw two seasons prior to that.
The Clarets can be backed at 15.50 for the shock win, while the Draw is trading at 6.60. It really is a no-bet market for me given then I think the home side will secure victory, but not without a few problems along the way.
Eden a huge Hazard for Burnley
One such problem that Chelsea will have to overcome is Burnley's ability to defend deep and with numbers, getting almost every man behind the ball and allowing their opponents a huge chunk of possession.
Don't get me wrong, the Clarets are adapt at breaking quickly once they win the ball and Chris Wood and Ashley Barnes have been in fine form in recent months, while they'll always be a danger at set-pieces. But I don't think we'll see much attacking intent from Burnley on Monday night and the onus to unlock their defence will rest mainly on the shoulders of Chelsea's talisman Eden Hazard.
The brilliant Belgian has been in superb form this season scoring 16 league goals in total. He's scored four in his last three league games on home soil, scoring his side's opening goal in two of those three matches, so a price of 3/1 on the Sportsbook in the First Goalscorer market is very fair.
However, in the Odds Boost section on the Sportsbook Hazard can be backed at 4/1 to open the scoring and Chelsea win the match. That's where our main wager of the game will be placed.
A win to nil and 'unders' the pick of the side markets
As mentioned already, I expect Burnley to make this a really tough night for the hosts, and while I believe Chelsea, and hopefully Hazard, will ultimately make the breakthrough I certainly don't expect a convincing victory for Sarri's men.
In fact Under 2.5 Goals is trading at2.46 on the Exchange, and I believe that's a price worth chancing in the hope that Burnley don't show much adventure and instead have a good defensive night, while I also wouldn't put anyone off backing a Chelsea Win to Nil at [2.12]given they've conceded just three goals in their previous nine Premier League home games this season against bottom-half opposition.
Back Eden Hazard to score first and Chelsea win @ 4/1 (Sportsbook Odds Boost)