Andrew Atherley finds it difficult to look beyond a Chelsea victory in Sunday’s clash at the KC Stadium but reckons both teams will get on the scoresheet…
Hull v Chelsea
Live on Sky Sports 1
The Tigers were in the drop zone at the beginning of February but now they have dragged themselves up to sixth-bottom, three points clear of danger, after losing only one of their last six games.
Overall, they remain a low-scoring team and that is still restricting their win opportunities with only one win in their last four games and none at all this season against a side that isn’t struggling.
This looks extremely tough for them, especially with influential midfielder Tom Huddlestone suspended. Robbie Brady, James Chester and Robert Snodgrass are on the injury list, but Liam Rosenior and Mohamed Diame are expected to be available after lengthy spells on the sidelines.
Chelsea’s charge towards the title has slowed down in recent weeks, but they can concentrate solely on that target now they are out of the Champions League as well as the FA Cup and have secured the Capital One Cup.
Jose Mourinho’s side still hold a healthy six-point advantage over Manchester City, whose form has dipped even further at this crucial stage of the season, and on paper this is the easiest match they have had in the past month.
John Obi Mikel is out through injury, while Willian is a doubt after picking up a knock against Southampton, but otherwise Mourinho’s squad is holding up well.
Hull will have to find something new if they are to cause a shock here, as they have not beaten a top-half side all season (their overall record in that category is W0 D5 L8 and at home it is W0 D2 L4). According to the table, the best side they have beaten is Crystal Palace, but that came at a time when Palace were struggling prior to Alan Pardew taking over as coach.
In reality, Hull have only beaten fellow strugglers this season – that may be enough to save them, of course, but there is a huge gulf in class to bridge here. The principal aim will be to keep a clean sheet but that looks unlikely, as they have managed only one shutout in 13 attempts against top-half teams.
When Hull have conceded in that category, they have lost eight out of 12 while Chelsea have won eight out of 13 on the road when scoring – both form lines indicate Chelsea are correctly priced at 1.51/2.
That does not rule out Hull getting a draw, or even better, but the scale of the task is clear from Chelsea’s W8 D2 L0 record against teams in the bottom seven (W3 D1 L0 away).
The recent plus for Hull is that their turnaround has coincided with the arrival of striker Dame N’Doye and their record with him in the starting line-up is W2 D2 L0. His only goals, however, have come against struggling Aston Villa, QPR and Sunderland, and this is a far more difficult test for the much-travelled striker.
Over/Under 2.5 Goals
There is a feeling that Mourinho’s teams only do just enough to win and that appears to be backed up in their goals stats. Their 10 games this season against bottom-seven teams have been split evenly between under and over 2.5 goals, with the key being whether the opposition score – unders in four out of five when they haven’t, overs in four out of five when they have.
Clean sheets have been harder for Chelsea to keep on the road (only four out of 14) and that has tipped the balance towards over 2.5 goals (eight out of 14 away).
Over 2.5 Goals may offer some value at 2.15n/a but much depends on whether Hull score. They have had seven blanks in 13 matches against top-half teams but have scored in four out of six at home in that category, which indicates a reasonable chance that they will get on the scoresheet.
Hull’s home scoring matches against top-half teams have had a 50/50 split between over/under 2.5 goals but every home match when they have conceded two goals or more has had over 2.5 goals, so it is possible they could push Chelsea towards a high score.
Match Odds and Both Teams To Score
The bottom line is that Chelsea have a strong win chance but might struggle to cover the Asian Handicap off -1 or the Win to Nil. It could be worth playing for bigger odds by backing Chelsea/Yes at 3/1 in this market on the Sportsbook, given that Chelsea don’t look totally secure in defence and Hull have managed to score against Manchester City, Arsenal and Tottenham this season.
Back Chelsea/Yes in Match Odds and Both Teams To Score @ 3/1 (1pt)
Staked: 66 pts
Returned: 66.62 pts
P/L: +0.62 pts