Make stock with Blues block
Gary Neville probably shouldn't expect a Christmas card from Andre Villas-Boas at any point next week but he can at least console himself with the fact that he's singing off the same hymnsheet as the persecuted Portuguese.
Villas-Boas made no secret of the fact that Neville was at the front of the queue of those were meant to take last week's Champions League win over Valencia as a slap in the face but Neville must surely feel some sense of vindication in the fact that AVB merely echoed his own excellent pre-match insight after the Blues' win over Manchester City on Monday night.
Neville went to great lengths before the game to explain how Chelsea's problems had stemmed from 'the block' playing too far up the field, allowing much of the viewing public to watch the game from a position of enlightenment as Roberto Mancini's men picked apart the Londoners' high defensive line on several occasions in the opening 25 minutes.
Chelsea, much to their credit, put things right in the end and Villas-Boas emerged afterwards to tell us all that the team had set out on a 'medium block' but it attracted too much attention to press City's short build-up, so the players adjusted their lines by their own accord until they felt comfortable with their position.
If you're wondering what relevance of all this has in the context of Saturday's trip to Wigan, the key point to understand is that Chelsea are comfortable within themselves again and comfortable with what they're supposed to be doing. As such, we should expect them to make light work of the Latics and there could be some serious value in the 6/4 quote about Chelsea to win to nil with SkyBet.
Roberto Martinez's men didn't muster a single goal in six attempts against the top three last season, a trend that stretched to a seventh game with a 3-0 defeat at the Etihad Stadium in September, and if you'd like something a bit more recent to illustrate the point, then look no further than a 4-0 spanking at home to Arsenal a fortnight ago.
Wigan have picked up maximum points from their last two away games at Sunderland and West Brom but we shouldn't attach too much weight to either result when weighing up the merits of them scoring a goal here. If anything, those results should merely satisfy the appetite for a few weeks and given their reputation for rolling over against the big guns, you do wonder whether they found an extra gear for those matches knowing they had fixtures against the top three lurking on the horizon.
Chelsea have kept clean sheets in their last two aways games at Blackburn and Newcastle, while they restricted City to few chances once they had warmed to the task, and given the uplifting nature of that win against the leaders, we'd be very surprised if the hosts rustled up too much to trouble Petr Cech.
Meanwhile, a Newcastle home game against Swansea is a combination that promises goals and we can't resist dipping our bread in the 9/4 on offer about over 3.5 goals at St James's Park.
The Jacks might be a miserly bunch in front of their own fans at the Liberty Stadium but they struggle to dominate possession to the same extent when they hit the road and that's when the cracks in their defence begin to surface. Brendan Rodgers' men have shipped 18 goals in seven away games and this bet would have been landed on all but two of those occasions.
As for Newcastle, it's time for them to go out on the front foot in search of a convincing win. They might have been able to hide behind the opposition and a touch of misfortune when suffering defeats against City and Chelsea, but there can be no excuses for conceding four goals at Norwich and for all their good work in the opening three months of the season, it should now be pointed out that the Magpies have only kept one clean sheet in 11 games.
- @burdinho @OOSOUL_ Cheers mate. — 11 hours 25 min ago
- @packytheblue How's he doing? Not seen him since City won the title! Think he was avoiding me at Roses gig in Barcelona after I'd had a few! — 11 hours 25 min ago
- @packytheblue Live text updates, possible colour piece afterwards. — 11 hours 30 min ago
- @storeyda Live updates online, maybe a colour piece afterwards. — 11 hours 30 min ago
- @OOSOUL_ Cheers Pete. Too kind! — 11 hours 35 min ago