Tuesday's Champions League previews
Chelsea kicks off their European campaign at home to German side Bayer Leverkusen in what may turn out to be a difficult group for the Blues. The Germans are no pushovers in European football and with Spanish side Valencia and Belgian champions Genk to follow a good start is a must for Villas-Boas's men.
Chelsea (2/5) are unbeaten so far in Premiership football but have looked far from convincing compared to the Chelsea of a few seasons ago. Villas-Boas has good European pedigree after leading Porto to the Europa League title last year and there's no reason to suggest he'll struggle in football's biggest club competition for the first time.
The manager made a point to struggling striker Fernando Torres by leaving him on the bench for Saturday's trip to Sunderland where they ran out 2-1 winners. The Spaniard will most likely find himself back in the starting XI and will be desperate to show a reaction to being dropped and at 4/1 to score first (Evs anytime)he's good value to start finding the back of the net again.
The Blues will be welcoming a familiar face back to Stamford Bridge as Michael Ballack is now back at Leverkusen whom he played in the 2002 final for. The German has always been a prolific midfielder and 14/1 first or 11/2 anytime represents a big price on his emotional return.
Leverkusen (8/1 - draw at 16/5) have made a reasonable start to the Bundesliga this season as new coach Robin Dutt has overseen them take 10 points from their 5 fixtures to sit fourth. The Leverkusen defence is one of the tightest around having conceding just once in those 5 Bundesliga games so a close game is certainly on the cards and goal markets should be a good bet for under. (2.5 Over 8/11, Under Evs)
I fully expect Chelsea to get off to a winning start in a tight affair as Villas-Boas will start to turn Stamford Bridge into a fortress again. The game will be one of limited chances as Chelsea will have to get creative to find away to breach the Leverkusen back line.
My top bets for the match would be:
Fernando Torres 1st goal @ 4/1 - The striker will be eager to respond after Saturday.
Michael Ballack anytime @ 11/2 - If Leverkusen is to score the number 13 knows where the back of the net is at Stamford Bridge.
Under 2.5 goals @ Evs - The Leverkusen defence is a stingy one and they won't create many chances going forward.
In a second Anglo-German clash of the night, Arsenal will have their work cut out for them as they visit the Signal Iduna Park to face German champions Dortmund.
The Black-Yellows (5/4) are strongly fancied to beat Arsenal (23/10 - draw 11/5) as they were head and shoulders above anyone else in the Bundesliga last year. However their form has been indifferent to start the season including a surprise home defeat to Hertha Berlin at the weekend which will give Arsenal hope.
This will be by far the Gunners toughest fixture in their group so they would be happy to head back to the Emirates Tuesday night with a point on the board; especially with their early season form took into account. Some of Wenger's new recruits have had a match to settle and things should steadily improve.
Arsenal showed that they can still be a force in Europe, even when things aren't going great domestically, with their victories over a good Udinese team to qualify. They should be able to take advantage of Dortmund's slow start to the season and grab a point in an entertaining high scoring draw. (2-2 16/1).
In a total contrast to the Chelsea fixture this one should be a lot more open with plenty of chances and goals (Over 2.5 21/20).
The German's have plenty of attacking options that will be able to cause Arsenal's defence an uncomfortable 90 min most notably Robert Lewandowski (13/2 first, 15/8 anytime) who has already scored in 2 Bundesliga games.
Theo Walcott has already found the net this term in Europe and his pace will trouble the home defence, the 14/1 about him first goal is a huge price. If you fancy him then you can also have a look at our special Match Winner bet which is for any English player to score first in either the Chelsea or Arsenal games, so for your 3/1 you get a whole host of English talent to cheer on!
Top bets for the match:
Draw @ 11/5 - Arsenal should be able to use their European experience to snatch a point.
2-2 Draw @ 16/1 - Big price as there should be plenty of wide open football
Over 3.5 @ 11/4 - should be goals, over 2.5 @ 21/20 for a safer option.