Stoke v Chelsea Betting Predictions | Backing Draw First Half/Chelsea second at 16/5 with Betfair

Back Chelsea 16/5 @Betfair
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Betting Tip: Backing draw first half/Chelsea second at 16/5 with Betfair

Chelsea have struggled at the Britannia Stadium, particularly in recent years, but rarely have they been quite as strong as they are under Antonio Conte this season. The respective styles of these teams point to this clash not being a classic, but with the Blues ten points clear at the top of Premier League betting, they are just counting down the games until they clinch their second Premier League title in three years.

Nobody has come close to Chelsea over the past few months, thanks in no small part to the 3-4-3 system Conte has utilised so expertly this season. On the face of it, there is very little weakness, because it allows the side to be as effective in the middle of the park as it does out wide, and as able to play on the counter as in control of the game with possession. The formation is one thing, but the players make it work. The back three of Gary Cahill, David Luiz and Cesar Azpilicueta are not the quickest, but teams cannot play through Chelsea to exploit that because of Nemanja Matic and N’Golo Kante sitting in front of them. From there Chelsea can push out through either of the fullbacks, Victor Moses and Marcos Alonso, and free up Pedro, Eden Hazard and Diego Costa. But the wide men will also double up with their corresponding centre back when defending.

The best way to get at Chelsea is to try to get the ball in behind their midfield pair as much as possible. They’re at the weakest when dealing with high balls into the striker, especially on the side between Azpilicueta and Luiz. Stoke had some joy with this by getting the ball into Peter Crouch and having the likes of Marko Anautovic run off him. Mark Hughes will likely look to do this again.

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But Conte has added a new layer to this system, using Cesc Fabregas to carry the ball forward and pick key passes. He will give the Stoke midfielders more to think about than Matic, and his freedom will come from playing with Kante, who has the energy to get around the pitch and mop up any danger. Conte is well aware of the small chink in his side’s armour, and will look to protect in anywat he can and that’s why Matic is a more likely starter than Fabregas here.

Chelsea do not overwhelm many teams, but they gently squeeze results out. Don’t expect this to be a classic, but the Blues’ class will shine through later in the game, so you can try your luck with this Betfair free bet.

Chelsea 16/5 @Betfair