By William Hill
8th January 2019
Amid all the ‘vertical-tiki-taka’-related excitement that accompanied Maurizio Sarri’s arrival at Chelsea, the superb defensive record of the former banker’s Napoli side during his final season at the Azzurri helm went relatively unremarked upon.
Now, some 21 games into Sarri’s Premier League career, it’s clear that, while he may have been coveted for his brand of fast-paced attacking football, his ability to tighten up a defence may have gone unheralded.
Chelsea’s defensive progress under Sarri in numbers
The Blues have conceded one goal across their last eight games at Stamford Bridge and boast the division’s second-tightest defence in terms of goals conceded.
So far this term they’ve conceded at a rate of 0.76 goals per game in league action, an average that’s superior to all bar one of their last nine Premier League campaigns, including all three times they won the title during that period.
Last season Chelsea conceded top-flight strikes on a ratio of one per game, while in 2016/17 the mean was 0.89 and the season before that 1.39.
Chelsea vs Newcastle predictions and betting tips
Betting on the Blues win to nil would’ve rewarded backers in five of their last seven home games and with Sarri’s side trading at odds of just 2/9 to turn over struggling Newcastle in west London this weekend, it once again looks like a profitable ploy.
Chelsea are an accumulator-friendly 17/20 for a shut-out success against the Magpies and it’s a selection that’s made all the more persuasive by the visitors’ dreary strike-rate this term.
Only Huddersfield have mustered fewer Premier League goals than the St James’ Park club’s 15 and they’ve now failed to find the net in half of their last eight games in the division.
Alongside the Blues clean sheet win, another way of backing them to prevail at a price close to the EVS mark is the Eden Hazard anytime wincast at odds of 4/5.
The brilliant Belgian has been a recurring Newcastle nightmare during his time in England, bagging seven times in 11 appearances against them – including on Tyneside in August – as many as against any single opponent in his career.
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