West Brom v Chelsea – The Hawthorns at 20:00 live on Sky Sports 1
Tony Pulis and Jose Mourinho go into this match having already achieved what they set out to do this season with West Brom and Chelsea respectively. Pulis has lead the Baggies to safety, ensuring another season in the top flight and Mourinho, leading the Blues to their first league title in 5 years. With this in mind, we have to question the motivation of each side and their approach going into this match to find where the value lies on the Asian Handicap betting market.
A lot of credit has to go to the former Stoke boss for turning things around at the Hawthorns since taking over in January. In Pulis’ 16 league games in charge, WBA have kept 9 clean sheets which takes their total of clean sheets to 14 this season, just 3 fewer than the Champions with 17.
The Baggies are set up to frustrate opponents, happy to sit back and soak up the pressure, waiting for an opportunity, if any, to counter. This has worked well in recent weeks against Liverpool and Man Utd in particular. In their 0-0 draw with Liverpool they had just 27% possession, then just 20% against Utd at Old Trafford and came away with a 1-0 win. I expect them to play in the same way tonight.
Chelsea wrapped up the league title a couple of week’s ago in their 1-0 win over Crystal Palace, but it was their hard work and all round performances from the first half of the season that won it for them. Since the turn of the year Mourinho seemed to adopt a more cautious, defensive approach to maintain the lead they had earned, which paid off for the Blues.
Their 1-1 draw against Liverpool last weekend, their first match since clinching the title, seemed to be played in the same fashion, with less of the ball and far fewer chance created than the visitors. They made a few changes, as expected, given some youngster and a few fringe players a chance, but the tactics and performance remained the same.
With WBA and Chelsea’s tendency to keep it tight at the back, the defences could dominate this one, resulting in a low scoring match. The Under 2.5 goals price of 1.81 looks a touch of value, but we have to be aware that Chelsea may also turn it on as I expected them to do against Liverpool and put on a show. If they did, I still think the Baggies will not be humiliated, learning from their mistakes when conceding 10 in their 3 straight defeats in early April.
The Unders price does represent some value, but I have to go with the Champions to win tonight. The Blues should keep a clean sheet and despite West Brom’s recent defensive form, I think they will concede. They only managed a draw with Newcastle last time out and everybody has beaten them since March.
Asian Handicap Betting Recommendation: Chelsea -0.5 @ 1.88
Prices correct at time of writing.
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