Strange things can happen on the opening weekend of a new season. Just ask Chelsea. Twelve months ago they were defending champions, and hosted a Burnley side who had won just one away match in the whole of 2016/17.
However, the Clarets won 3-2 at Stamford Bridge, and went on to arguably have a better season than Antonio Conte’s Blues. On the same day, Huddersfield won 3-0 at Crystal Palace, which few people would’ve expected either.
Despite winning the FA Cup, Conte has since left as was widely expected for months, and has been replaced by Maurizio Sarri. Chelsea are the 19th club of his career, and Roman Abramovich will hope he can bring some of the flair and success he had with Napoli, his previous club, to England.
The bookmakers expect him to get off to winning ways, and are not anticipating a shock defeat for the west London side. The hosts are priced at 5/1 with Karamba, who have Chelsea available at 4/7 and the draw at 59/20.
The odds seem fair enough, as Huddersfield had dreadful underlying statistics in 2017/18. Based on the expected goal data, the Terriers should’ve been relegated along with Stoke and Swansea, as they deserved to win just six matches. David Wagner’s side may have beaten Manchester United at home, and sealed their Premier League safety with a draw at Stamford Bridge, but it’s hard to see anything other than an away win.
Although Huddersfield scored home and away against Chelsea last season, they were still the joint-lowest scorers in the Premier League, and the lowest on expected goals. The Terriers’ lack of firepower meant they featured in the fewest top flight games where both teams scored in 2017/18, as both they and their opponents found the net in just 12 matches.
This was the fewest in the Premier League since Crystal Palace had 11 such games in 2013/14. Huddersfield are unlikely to change their tactics from last season and will look to keep the match tight, so it seems probable that at least one side will fail to score. A ‘no’ bet in the BTTS market is available at a best price of 20/23 with BetVictor.
It’s a similar picture when we consider the total goals market too. Only 14 of Huddersfield’s matches in their debut Premier League campaign featured at least three goals, and only another promoted side – Brighton, with 13 – had fewer.
Over 2.5 goals may have paid out in 21 of Chelsea’s 38 league matches in 2017/18, and coincidentally it occurred in the same number of Napoli games for Sarri last season too. However, it’s hard to see the Blues running riot in west Yorkshire on the opening weekend. Consider this one as part of your accumulator.
At the time of writing they have been low-scoring in pre-season, and will be happy to get out with a low fuss three points. You can get 13/15 with 888sport that there are under 2.5 goals in this fixture, and that looks the right way to go.
Anytime Goalscorer bets are always tough to predict at the best of times, and it’s rarely trickier than on the opening weekend. For instance, Eden Hazard was Chelsea’s top league scorer last season, and only three players in the division scored more goals on the road than he did, but will he play?
With rumours circulating the Belgian is on Real Madrid’s radar, will the Londoners risk him picking up an injury here? It will be wise to wait for team news before betting, but if Hazard does play then he looks the Blues’ most likely goal-getter.
On pre-season form, it may be worth having a flutter on Pedro to be among the goals. The former Barcelona man may have only scored four league goals in 2017/18, but he scored Chelsea’s only goals against both Perth Glory and Inter Milan.
For Huddersfield, Steve Mounie was their top scorer last season, as well as being their top man for opening goals and joint-top goal plunderer at the John Smith’s Stadium. He also got a late winner against Bologna in a recent pre-season friendly, so while I think the Terriers will struggle to score here, the Beninese striker looks the man most likely.
With the low odds on offer for Chelsea to win, I like the look of Genting Bet’s 11/8 for the visitors to win to nil. Huddersfield lost 16 league matches without scoring in 2017/18, which was the most in the division, and only three sides won more times while keeping a clean sheet then Chelsea did. This won’t be the most entertaining match of the weekend, but it should be a comfortable winning debut for Maurizio Sarri.