Chelsea v Aston Villa: Forward thinking at the Bridge
Both Chelsea and Aston Villa love to attack and that should be reflected in the scoreline in Wednesday's Premier League game at Stamford Bridge, says Andy Schooler...
Chelsea v Aston Villa Wednesday December 4, 19:30 Live on Amazon Prime Video
Fair play to Aston Villa and their manager Dean Smith.
Since winning promotion back to the Premier League, they've been more than prepared attack their more established rivals and while their approach hasn't always paid dividends, it's certainly been good to watch.
It also offers up some decent betting angles but, be patient, we're only in the third paragraph.
Key to their gameplan has been allowing Jack Grealish and John McGinn to get forward, ensuring main striker Wesley hasn't been left isolated - something which has been such a common problem for teams coming out of the Championship looking to contain first and foremost.
Villa certainly haven't sat back, particularly away from home where they've already scored twice at both Arsenal and Manchester United. They've also found the net at Spurs and Wolves and when they came up against a really flaky defence at Norwich they smashed in five.
For this game, they will be without right-back Frederic Guilbert (suspended) although likely replacement Ahmed Elmohamady is a player who also loves to get forward. Anwar El Ghazi may also miss out after limping off in Sunday's 2-2 draw at Old Trafford.
Blues off the boil
Chelsea's defence can hardly be described as watertight and Villa head to Stamford Bridge at arguably a good time.
The Blues have just lost back-to-back league games, with a Champions League draw sandwiched in between.
That end-to-end game in Valencia was in many ways a microcosm of their season. They've attacked with verve and precision but they've undoubtedly left he door open at the back too often.
Perhaps that can be put down to Frank Lampard's lack of managerial experience and, to be fair, it's still early days for him moulding a new-look, youthful side.
Things definitely backfired for him at the weekend when five changes were made and the Blues subsequently lost 1-0 at home to West Ham.
Expect many of those omitted to return here, with the good news for Lampard being the possible availability of top scorer Tammy Abraham, who was injured in Valencia and missed on Saturday.
That said, the boss will also have one eye on Saturday lunchtime's game at Everton and a crucial Champions League clash with Lille next Tuesday. In contrast, Villa have just one game next week - at home to Leicester on Sunday.
Chelsea are 1.32to win this game, with Villa out at 11.00. The draw is a 6.20 shot.
There's not too much that makes appeal there but the same cannot be said about the goal markets.
Attacking play to the fore
Both teams' attack-first, defend-second approach is reflected in the over 2.5 goals stats.
Ten of Villa's 14 matches have featured at least three goals, while for Chelsea the figure is nine of 14.
Over 2.5 in this one is at 1.45 with unders 3.10.
Back both to score
However, I much prefer the both-teams-to-score bet at 1.79.
That's occurred in nine of 14 games so far for both teams with Villa's away games producing an even better ratio of five of seven.
Admittedly Chelsea's figures at the Bridge are less appealing (three of seven). Brighton, Newcastle and Palace have all lost to nil here but then none of those sides have been as adventurous as Villa this season.
Villa will have a go here and I'm far from convinced the Chelsea backline is good enough - or protected well enough - to keep them out. As for the hosts, only two sides have kept clean sheets against them and the return of Abraham would be a real boost on the scoring front.
1.79 about both sides scoring makes strong appeal.
Follow the trend
Another notable Villa trend has been their ability to get in front early.
Looking at a table which takes only first-half performances into account, Villa sit second with just Liverpool ahead of them. They've led at half time in seven of their 14 games and have been behind only twice. That's pretty remarkable for a team sitting 15th in the standings that actually matter.
Away from home, they've led at the interval at both Tottenham and Arsenal and were also just a few minutes away from doing so at Old Trafford on Sunday.
They are on offer at 8.00to lead at half time here which is tempting but an even bigger price catches the eye which looks worth throwing some small change at.
You can get 24.00 about Villa leading at half time but losing the match - just as they did in both of those games in north London.
Clearly given their overall position, their outstanding first-half record is complemented by a ropey second-half one. They've conceded 15 of their 22 goals in the last 30 minutes of games and nine of those in the final 15. Such stats make an exchange trade a real possibility and certainly something worth considering if Villa do grab another early lead.
With Chelsea's confidence having taken a knock in the past fortnight, I would not be at all surprised for vibrant Villa to grab an early goal but even if that happens Chelsea should create enough chances to recover any such situation.
Given what we've seen from Villa, that HT/FT price looks big.
Aston Villa have dropped the most points from winning positions in the Premier League this season (13), winning just one of the four away games they've led in (W1 D1 L2).