Chelsea (-333) vs Stoke City (+1250), Draw (+515)
Stoke City (5-6-7, 21 points) has a tough fight ahead of them this Saturday (December 31st), when they face league leading Chelsea (15-1-2, 46 points) at Stamford Bridge for the 19th round of the English Premier League.
Chelsea has been riding high for some time now and just took their 12th straight win in the Premier League after an easy 3-0 victory over Bournemouth. Currently, they are six points clear of the table and their chances are set to improve even further next week when second and third place teams, Liverpool and Manchester City, face each other. Regardless of the result, Chelsea will be even closer to taking the title if they manage to beat Stoke.
And they shouldn’t have too much trouble beating Stoke, who hasn’t won in four games. Granted, they have had a tough draw these last few weeks, facing Arsenal and Liverpool. But from how they’ve played, they don’t seem too well equipped to deal with what Chelsea will throw at them.
Their most recent defeat to Liverpool is a good example of this. Stoke managed to open the scoring, but couldn’t fend off the Liverpool attack, ultimately losing 4-1. Their undoing didn’t just come from a relentless Liverpool offense, but largely from defensive errors. With players like Diego Costa and Eden Hazard, Chelsea is the team most able to capitalize on defensive vulnerabilities.
The main concern for Chelsea is its reliance on Costa and Hazard, its two star players. But the club hit back at critics last week when they beat Bournemouth 3-0 without striker Costa or midfielder N’Golo Kante. Sure, it was only Bournemouth, but the comfortable victory showed the Chelsea squad is more versatile than some may have thought.
Both Costa and Kante will be fit for Saturday’s match. Unless Stoke can pull out something special or Chelsea choke in spectacular fashion, we’ll be seeing Chelsea take their 13th consecutive win and edge one week closer to taking the title.
Pick: Chelsea (-333)
Photo credit: “David Luiz playing the ball forward” by Ben Sutherland CC BY-SA 2.0 [http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0], via Flickr.
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