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Andre Villas-Boas has spoken of the importance of his side’s December fixtures in defining their season. They could have hoped for an easier start to the month than a trip up to Newcastle, who have won four and drawn two at St James’ Park and show no signs of dropping off the pace in the chase for a top-four finish.
Chelsea have lost twice on the road in the league (to Manchester United and QPR) and have also suffered two at home (Arsenal and Liverpool). A further home defeat on Tuesday to Kenny Dalglish’s side in the Carling Cup quarter-final has done little to bolster their confidence, despite the manager making some key changes to his starting line up. If you fancy them to turn things round on Saturday, back the Blues to get the three points at odds of evens (bet365 – £200 free bets).
However, we fancy Newcastle will play Chelsea just as Liverpool did: get in their faces, give them no time to play it around and keep the pressure on for the full 90 minutes. The Toon Army got a creditable draw at Old Trafford last weekend, and their only loss in the league this season was to table-toppers Manchester City. Which makes the best price of 3/1 (Stan James – £150 free betting) for a home win seem very tempting indeed.
Demba Ba has been in decent form for Newcastle this season, and he can be backed at odds of 13/2 (Sky Bet) to open the scoring. Also, given that none of the last six league matches between the sides at St James’ has produced more than two goals, backing under 2.5 could be prudent at a best-priced 17/20 (bet365).
If Villas-Boas does mastermind victory in this one, it will be impressive indeed. But we get the distinct impression it will be the home side celebrating at the final whistle.