Adrian Clarke is back and hoping to bring his podcast form into his weekly EPL column…
It was a shame to narrowly miss out on both bets in last week’s column but I do hope some of you followed my selections from the Matchbook podcast which came up trumps with seven from seven landing!
This weekend we go again, starting in West London
They're back with @Sully_Matchbook for the Weekend Preview covering the Premier League, EFL & Europe ✅
Available as a pod or on YouTube ?️https://t.co/kABQhnQ06w
— Matchbook Betting Exchange (@TeamMatchbook) May 5, 2022
CHELSEA’S FLAT FEELING TO CONTINUE AT HOME TO WOLVES
These are strange times for Chelsea Football Club. On and off the pitch.
We all know the ongoing sale process is a complicated affair – and this platform is no place for that kind of topic – but a feeling of uncertainty (and in some respects doom and gloom) seems to have permeated into the dressing room.
Thomas Tuchel’s men are not playing well, and although there is a mild threat of relinquishing third spot, their end to the season is basically structured around being ready for the FA Cup Final against Liverpool.
Watching their recent displays, and many of those have featured alarm bells aplenty, it is hard to envisage Chelsea being hugely ‘up’ for the visit of Wolverhampton Wanderers on Saturday afternoon.
Recent history also tells us they have had real issues breaking down this stubborn, well-organised opponent.
Earlier on this season at Molineux, they shared the points in the drabbest of drab goalless draws, that saw each side muster just one shot on target apiece.
In this fixture at Stamford Bridge last term, Tuchel’s first as head coach, Chelsea and Wolves served up another painful watch that ended in a 0-0 stalemate. Both sides were below 0.7xG on that occasion, meaning clear cut chances were practically non-existent.
This is a different time of course, and Chelsea are now European and world champions, but my hunch is that Wolves can make this another frustrating contest for the Blues.
While their form is poor (last weekend against Brighton they were dismal) and their continued lack of goal threat is a major concern (especially if they concede early) Bruno Lage’s side are not accustomed to being trampled on when they go on their travels.
Only Chelsea (11) and Manchester City (8) have conceded fewer away goals than the Wanderers who have only leaked 13 in 17 matches.
They are a tactically sound visiting outfit that’s won eight times away from home, drawn two and lost seven.
And of those defeats, the heaviest was a 2-0 reverse at Crystal Palace.
The remainder were all losses by a single goal, and that’s why I am drawn to the handicap prices on Matchbook.
Currently, you can get a +1.5 handicap for Wolves at 1.81 which greatly appeals.
I’ve shared several angles to suggest why Wolves can keep this close already, but a deeper examination of Chelsea’s home form is also of interest.
Since the start of November this bet, on the away side with a +1.5 handicap, landed in 10 of 11 games at Stamford Bridge.
Tuchel’s men have under-performed on their own patch for a sustained period now, dropping an unusual number of points, and the only ‘handsome’ home win was a 2-0 at home to Spurs.
If Wolves get beaten at Chelsea by one goal we are still in the money, and we also get the draw and the full range of away win score lines to boot.
All that for 1.81 seems decent value to me.
ARSENAL’S FLAT TRACK RECORD PROVIDES OPTIMISM AHEAD OF LEEDS VISIT
The brilliant Mark O’Haire informed me this week that since Arsene Wenger left Arsenal in 2018 the Gunners boast a 74% win rate at home to bottom-half teams. That same percentage has clicked whenever the Gunners have started odds-on at Emirates Stadium too.
That’s surprisingly impressive and it showcases their appetite and effectiveness when looking to despatch underdogs in front of their own supporters.
Relegation-threatened Leeds United fall into that category for sure, so my eyes have been drawn towards finding an angle that offers enough value to get on board with Mikel Arteta’s men this Sunday.
Nine of Arsenal’s home wins have featured Over 1.5 goals this term, and the pair of 1-0 successes arrived before mid-November.
Scoring goals has come easier of late for the fourth-placed side, finding the back of the net nine times across three tricky tests against Chelsea, Manchester United and West Ham United.
They bagged a pair of set-piece strikes last weekend at the London Stadium too, and it’s worth noting that Leeds United have let in 18 goals from dead balls this season.
That is the highest figure of any Premier League team and it’s a weakness I think the Gunners can exploit.
The Yorkshire strugglers look marginally better under Jesse Marsch it has to be said, certainly less vulnerable at the back, but without injured Liam Cooper, Stuart Dallas and Patrick Bamford they are light on quality.
They also happen to have a dreadful record against the Big Six, which is likely to impact their self-belief.
This season they have lost 10 out of 10 against the big guns, letting in 42 goals in the process. Back in December, the Gunners trampled all over them in a 4-1 win at Elland Road in one of those defeats.
Yes there is pressure on Arsenal this weekend. And yes, Leeds United have a lot of motivation to perform themselves, but because the visitors are in essence a front foot pressing side I do feel this is an encounter that should suit the hosts.
If there is space left free to run into, Arteta’s young guns absolutely love it.
Providing you can get in on Arsenal & Over 1.5 goals at 1.71 or better then I’d recommend this selection. This fixture bears all the hallmarks of another professional home win at the Emirates.
- Wolves +1.5 at Chelsea (1.81)
- Arsenal & Over 1.5 vs Leeds (1.71)