Newcastle v Chelsea: Short-priced Blues must be taken on
Chelsea have let plenty of punters down at short prices already this season and they may be about to do it again, says Jamie Pacheco.
Newcastle v Chelsea Saturday January 18, 17:30 TV: live on Sky Sports Main Event
Bruce doing a steady job
Newcastle are 13th which isn't a bad place to be given theirs isn't a particularly strong squad with a proven goalscorer being something they haven't had for a while.
And with all due respect to Steve Bruce, one of football's nice guys, he's not at the same level as predecessor Rafa Benitez.
Their first priority will be to make sure they stay in this division, the next one will be to solve a few problem areas with a goalscorer and another high-class centre-back the main areas where they need some fresh blood.
At least they don't have to worry about their keeper. Martin Dubravka made two match-defining saves away at Wolves in a 1-1 draw last weekend and has had a fine season.
Big game before nightmare run
Fourth place would be a pretty good effort given how new Frank Lampard is to all this and that much-talked about transfer ban.
Last week a Jorginho penalty (below) got them on their way as they went on to beat Burnley 3-0 at home.
Five points clear of Manchester United, they look well set to achieve that but they need to beware. This is the last of their 'somewhat easy' matches before going on a run that sees them play Arsenal, Leicester, Manchester United and Tottenham next.
Christian Pulisic is out injured so the smart money is on Willian and Callum Hudson-Odoi playing either side of target man Tammy Abraham.
Reasons to take on short-priced Blues
Chelsea are 1.57 and the instant reaction is that's far too short. It's a price that can be partly explained by their strong record against Newcastle.
They've allowed the Magpies to take just four points off them in their last eight matches and only enjoy playing Tottenham more than they do this bunch. They've beaten Spurs 29 times and Newcastle on 25 occasions in the Premier League, as Opta remind us.
But there are good reasons to oppose Chelsea. The hosts may have lost their last two on home soil but before that they were unbeaten at home in eight games which included such results as a 2-2 draw with Man City and a fine 1-0 win over Man Utd.
And if there's one thing I've learnt about Chelsea this season, it's that you can't trust them at short prices. They've lost at home to Bournemouth, West Ham and Southampton as hot favourites so maybe they don't enjoy the role of jollies, where teams are happy to sit back and catch them on the break.
So 1.57 is no price for a team as inconsistent and unpredictable. That's an obvious lay right there.
BTTS looks likely
'Unders' is a 2.20 chance which makes sense given that 82% of Chelsea' away games this season have gone 'overs'.
But better than taking overs at 1.76, we can have both teams scoring at 1.86 instead. It would have paid out in the same 82% of Chelsea's away games this season but was a winner in Newcastle home games more often than 'overs' was.
Chelsea have a strange thing going on whereby they're the second best side on the road this term but have kept just one clean sheet away from Stamford Bridge this campaign, conceding 19 goals in 11 games.
If we take the view that Chelsea won't keep Newcastle out here and that they'll inevitably score at least one themselves, then it's a pretty confident selection.
Hail 19/1 shot Cesar
We might like Newcastle to score a goal but good luck trying to decipher who might get it.
Jonjo Shelvey (11/2 to score) is the team's top scorer with five and no-one else has more than two. That includes Joelinton who with one goal to his name from 21 starts after a highly expensive transfer fee was paid for him, has to be considered a costly flop at the moment. The Brazilian is 10/3 and that's obviously one to serve.
For Chelsea there isn't much to get excited about, either. Abraham is 5/6 which isn't a great price and the in-form Willian is a somewhat tempting 15/8. Tempting, but not tempting enough.
If you want a big-priced scorer, try chancing Cesar Azpilicueta. He has three for the season in all competitions, has been getting forward a fair bit of late and is always a threat from set-pieces. He's not the tallest at 5ft 8 but seems to get himself into good positions from corners with defenders more worried about some of his team-mates. At odds of 19/1, he represents a value wager.