Krasnodar v Chelsea: Chilwell has eye for goal

Chelsea head to an injury-hit Krasnodar in Russia on Wednesday and Andy Schooler has a 12/1 pick for the Champions League contest...

FK Krasnodar v Chelsea
Wednesday 28 October, 17:55
Live on BT Sport 3

You can't trust Chelsea

I can't be the only one wary of backing Chelsea at a short price this season.

They are just 1.48 to win away to Russian side Krasnodar on Wednesday and that's not a price I'd want to get involved with given the nature of the Blues right now.

You don't really know what you're going to get from Chelsea at the moment - and I'm not sure manager Frank Lampard does either.

Having played out 3-3 draws with both West Brom and Southampton in the Premier League, his side's defensive deficiencies were clear for all to see.

With new men Thiago Silva and Ben Chilwell bedding in, perhaps a shaky start was understandable and it's easy to say that, with games under their belt, clean sheets would follow. Undoubtedly a new keeper, Edouard Mendy, has also helped.

The big-spending Londoners have kept out both Sevilla and Manchester United in the past week but neither game has been won and the conclusion which looks most relevant is that Lampard has failed to correctly balance his side.

The statistics suggest this is true. Chelsea have managed only six shots in each of their last two games, a staggeringly low figure given the attacking talent at their disposal.

Lampard went with a back three at Old Trafford on Saturday but that may change here.

Champions League Tactical Preview: Check out Alex Keble's column

With the games coming thick and fast - Chelsea head to Burnley on Saturday and host Rennes next Wednesday - Lampard will surely be tempted to make changes.

With greater depth in forward areas, any changes seem most likely to come at that end of the field with the likes of Tammy Abraham and Hakim Ziyech itching for a start.

Whoever does start, Chelsea should have enough to win the game but then who saw them being 3-0 down at West Brom or throwing away a two-goal lead at home to Saints?

Injury-hit hosts

The good news for the visitors is that Krasnodar - 8.2 for the upset - have plenty of problems of their own, particularly in terms of injuries.

Former Newcastle midfielder Remy Cabella is their top scorer but he's sat out the last two matches due to COVID concerns. Viktor Claesson is another doubt, while fellow winger Wanderson hasn't played for a month so even if he is declared fit, he's unlikely to be match sharp.

Right-back Sergey Petrov suffered a hamstring injury during last week's 1-1 draw at Rennes and with last season's back-up Dmitri Stotskiy out long term, recent signing Igor Smolnikov is set to start.

If Cabella, Claesson, Wanderson and Petrov all fail to make the teamsheet, the men who have scored 12 of Krasnodar's 23 goals this season will be missing.

Swedish internationals Marcus Berg (pictured, above) and Kristoffer Olsson missed the weekend's home defeat to Russian league leaders Spartak Moscow but, in some rare good news, both are expected to recover.

Regardless of who actually is fit, this won't be a side with much Champions League experience.

Last week's draw was the club's debut at the group stage and no fewer than 11 of their players were making their bow in the competition.

That 3-1 weekend loss made it just one win in four for Krasnodar and they've slipped to eighth domestically. Last season they finished third but in doing so won less than half of their games. They are no great shakes.

All set for goals?

Given the unsettled nature of their team, it is perhaps no surprise to see that both teams have scored in nine of Krasnodar's last 11 outings.

A week ago I'd have happily taken 1.92 about both teams scoring in this one but Chelsea's move to focus on defence casts doubts.

That said, given there's a good chance that Lampard will tweak his line-up for this match, I still find this a more attractive bet than over 2.5 goals at 1.72.

If the Blues do opt to rest the likes of Timo Werner and Kai Havertz, the visitors may not be able to take full advantage of the hosts' selection issues.

Essentially, I feel Chelsea are a team hard to trust right now given their manager's lack of tactical consistency.

Chilwell can land 12/1 punt

When that's the case, my approach is usually to seek out a big-priced value play and the one I have for this match is Ben Chilwell to score - on offer at a tasty 12/1.

The England left-back has played his part in Chelsea's attacking play since last month's transfer from Leicester.

He's had a shot on target in four of his six games and scored against Crystal Palace - his third goal in his last 13 Premier League games.

When Lampard opted for three at the back on Saturday he was pushed into a wing-back role - if that's replicated here it will be an added bonus but he'll get forward from whichever position he plays.

With Krasnodar having a stand-in at right-back, Chilwell may well be given licence to have a real go down that side and he's often found drifting in at the back post when play comes down the right via the likes of Reece James and, potentially here, Ziyech.

While I'm hardly convinced Chelsea will go to town on their hosts, there's certainly a chance of that happening given Krasnodar's problems, so 12/1 looks big.

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