A stunning solo performance by Eden Hazard has left Chelsea still in sight of leaders Arsenal, with four points between each of the top three. There’s a mouthwatering pre-Christmas trip to the Emirates to look forward to, preceded by two games against teams that Chelsea really should be brushing aside if title contention is on the menu.
And it seems that it is, with only one loss (to Newcastle) in the last ten Premiership fixtures. Three wins on the trot have pushed the team above Liverpool, though Luis Suarez seems to be getting better if anything. His test will come on the Sunday after Christmas with Liverpool’s visit to Stamford Bridge.
Sunderland fought hard, as they should for a team that already seems to be in trouble. The scoreline reflected that fight, with a certain amount of luck involved in securing the three points. Defensive issues were highlighted, but second place in the run-up to the festive season is no bad place to be.
The season so far has been all about the return of Jose Mourinho. Two wins and a draw with Man Utd in August was a cracking start, though September wasn’t quite up to scratch, with CL defeat to Basle and a PL loss to Everton. Beating Man City and Arsenal within a couple of days of each other in October was a boost, and while November was mixed, wobbles from most rivals have left things looking in good shape.
Odds on Chelsea’s next few games are looking interesting for the fan who likes a punt. If you fancy backing the team to win Saturday’s away game at Stoke, right now you’ll only get around 8/13 – bookies do not fancy a home win, with Stoke priced at up to 5/1. Those are the same odds you’ll get on Fernando Torres or Demba Ba scoring first, with Hazard and Juan Mata at around 8/1.
Looking ahead to the Arsenal game on Monday 23rd, you might fancy a flutter on Chelsea to win at 2/1; Arsenal are currently priced at 5/4. With a few games to come between now and then, these prices are likely to change, so consider this before you bung all the turkey money on the match! For the gambling fan who prefers the slightly less nail-biting world of the virtual card table, you could try some casino games instead – due to the upcoming holiday season the big online casino portals such as Ace-Ten are promoting a lot of special holiday offers; a perfect time to jump into the action!
There’s a long way to go, but we’re well over a third of the way through the season. Christmas is going to be crunch time, and things will be a lot clearer come January.
By Simon Fitzpatrick