Excuse the soccer-lingo pun, but the Vegas betting odds on this Sunday’s Chelsea vs Everton Premier League match at Stamford Bridge are…striking.
Chelsea-to-win moneylines are hovering around (-250) alongside (+750) odds for Toffees to break the Blues’ unbeaten streak. That’s almost an 8-to-1 payout on the underdog ML market. Everton is also getting 1 and ½ goals in most goal spreads. The consensus O/U total is a healthy (3) goals even.
Of crucial importance is that the visitors have had a very hard time winning matches at Stamford Bridge. Overall, Everton is 2-2-6 in its last 10 fixtures with the Blues.
The Toffees also do not have a signature victory in 2018-19 that would lead punters to believe an upset is ripe to happen. Sunday’s guests have not beaten anyone near the top of the Premier League table, though their opportunities to do so have been limited. On October 28th, Manchester United hosted Everton and coasted to a 2-1 win despite an unhealthy vibe surrounding José Mourinho’s squad.
But there are many bright spots for Sunday’s visitors. Richarlison shined in Everton’s last outing on Matchday 11, scoring once in each half as the hosting Toffees prevailed 3-1 over Brighton. Toffees possessed the ball for 62% of the match and attempted almost 3 times as many shots as the Seagulls.
Do Chelsea’s guests have anyone in midfield who can rival the efforts of former Everton prospect Ross Barkley, Jorginho, and N’Golo Kanté?
Bernard is a Brazilian winger known for his energy, and 29-year-old Icelander Gylfi Sigurdsson is having a splendid season with 5 goals in 11 apps. But too many players among Richarlison’s supporting cast are struggling to produce tallies, including Bernard, and Cenk Tosun who has cooled considerably after a fiery EPL debut.
Everton’s Jordan Pickford is a superstar keeper who impressed not just Premier League fans but the entire globe with Three Lions in Russia. But Pickford is not the greatest individual athlete among all goalkeepers in English football. His strengths are consistency, versatility and communication, traits that would be more valuable if combined with a more elite backline.
The keeper has posted 2 clean sheets so far this season, but 1 came against lowly Fulham, and another against the defense-first Eagles of Crystal Palace Football Club. Séamus Coleman is a steady force by Pickford’s side, and Michael Keane a source of comfort, but Kurt Zouma is a loaner from Chelsea who may fulfill what some have claimed is Ross’ destiny in this match – giving the Blues a familiar foe to work on and probe for weakness as the halves progress.
David Luiz is considered the weak link in the Chelsea backline, and took criticism for running forward on pell-mell attacking chances and leaving his box unattended during the Pensioners’ recent 3-1 win over Crystal Palace. Luiz’s reckless play resulted in the Eagles’ lone goal of the contest.
But thanks to a wealth of talent and experience surrounding goalkeeper Kepa, Maurizio Sarri has the flexibility to adjust when things start to go awry.
For instance, the skipper can replace Luiz with talented young Andreas Christensen on the backline. If Everton’s style of advancing wingers alongside striker Richarlison begins to produce shots, veterans like Marcos Alonzo can play more cautiously in front of Kepa while the club relies on the individual talents of Pedro and a rejuvenated Álvaro Morata to create offense off of long balls and simple passes. If Everton ever sits back and waits, Chelsea can play out from the back and dazzle supporters with ball movement.
If Chelsea is the true heavy favorite, and not the recipient of an inflated moneyline, where is the betting value? It would not be a % pick to choose the Blues on the goal spread, since the hosts are not scoring at the nuclear pace of Manchester City even as the club wins match after match. And (-250) is a poor payoff on a 3-way moneyline pick.
The weather may help provide a clever wager with well over a 50% chance of a payoff.
Analysis of wet-weather football is not without differing opinions. Some old hands maintain that a soccer ball will hydroplane on soaked turf, making passes and shots reach their targets faster. Others point to the laws of physics, saying that water can only slow down a round rolling ball and that observers are just noticing the players making harder strikes in compensation.
An uneasy consensus seems to be that while sudden rain on a formerly dry pitch can turn a match into a chaotic rally around a fast-skimming stone, consistent rainy weather before and during an event will cause the overall pace of the fixture to slow.
Rain is expected in Fulham all weekend. Not uncertain storms or squalls, but steady rainfall and chilling temperatures. Pickford may be an X-factor in any upset bid from Everton. But if the weather at Stamford Bridge is as rainy as forecasted over the weekend, it could be the “X, Y, and Z” factor that overshadows all and makes things more methodical on the pitch.
I don’t see Richarlison having a fantastic day in soggy conditions, especially as a young athlete whose team lacks confidence when visiting Chelsea. But I also don’t see the Blues throwing caution to the wind (or the rain) with an unbeaten streak on the line and at least 1 wayward defender whom Sarri wants to restrict.
A Sunday on which chances are missed due to pratfalls, and on which veteran keepers play it slow and safe from the back, presents an opportunity on the goal total.
It doesn’t look like the type of weather forecast that could be completely mistaken, with rain forecasted to hit the venue for days on end. The match itself is likely to be played during the final downpour. That puts value on a low-scoring prediction.
Take the Under (3) goals for a winner at Stamford Bridge.
Kurt has authored close to 1000 stories covering football, soccer, basketball, baseball, ice hockey, prize-fighting and the Olympic Games. Kurt posted a 61% win rate on 200+ college and NFL gridiron picks last season. He muses about High School football on social media as The Gridiron Geek.