Archive for December, 2012

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Fernando Torres is no longer a liability for the Blues but their top scorer and together with countryman Mata, packs quite a punch in the offense. Although he needs plenty of opportunities to score, he somehow manages to send the ball towards the opponents’ net more often than he did one year ago. This explains why Chelsea is now in the fortunate position of threatening the third-place and a victory at home against Aston Villa will turn their dream into reality. The difference separating them from leading Manchester United is considerable, but overtaking third-place Arsenal would still be an excellent Christmas present.

Four teams are tied for the third place with 30 points, which would enable Chelsea to overtake all of them in one clean sweep. All they need is a victory at Stamford bridge and against Aston Villa they shouldn’t have serious problems in securing the three points. The visitors have plenty of memories from this stadium but very few of them are pleasant, as they’ve lost the majority of games played in London. On the bright side, they come after a surprising win away at Liverpool and prove that they can still score goals.

Rafa Benitez will not commit the same mistakes he did when coaching Liverpool and will field an offensive minded squad with two strikers. Torres will need to make the most of these opportunities to score, while the more clinical Mata should help him close the deal. It is hard to recommend a bet on a straight Chelsea win, because the odds are simply too low but a triumph by two goals or more raises the value at slightly above 2.00 with most bookmakers.

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There is no more time for playing around now that Manchester City stands six points behind their city rivals, and this visit to Newcastle is of critical importance. At a first glance it appears that the hosts are not going to cause them any problems as they have lost 9 out of the last 10 games. Furthermore, City has twice as many points this season and competes for the title, while Newcastle struggles to return to the first half of the tables. Bookmakers have embraced the idea and are suggesting that the visitors should achieve an easy win, by offering odds of 1.61.

While it is hard to deny their favorites status, there is simply no value in these odds and punters are hard pressed to find a better type of bet. One that stands out from the crowd is the Over 2.5 goals bet, which is valued at 1.70 by Bet365 and is quite easy to justify. For starters, the average number of goals scored between the two teams in the last 8 games is a massive 4, so there is plenty of room for error. Even if the host will be at full strength, Manchester City would easily keep them under pressure for the entire 90 minutes, but Newcastle misses no less than six players.

Even though not all of them play a critical role in Pardew’s squad, the fact that most of them come from the defensive area is worrisome. On the other hand, the visitors are also trying to replace three defenders on short notice and this would only aggravate their defensive woes. We have plenty of reasons to predict a high scoring game, and since the odds are superior to those offered for a straight victory, punters would be right to choose the Over 2.5 bet.