Chelsea can strengthen their grip on top spot in the Premier League when they welcome relegation-threatened Hull City to Stamford Bridge this weekend (4.30pm Sunday on Sky Sports 1).
It was vital that Antonio Conte’s men bounced back from their defeat by Tottenham Hotspur when they tackled Leicester City last weekend, and that is exactly what they did. The visitors to the King Power Stadium ran out 3-0 winners against the champions, with the absence of top scorer Diego Costa barely felt by the Blues. Costa was missing either due to a back injury, a bust-up with Chelsea’s fitness coach, a desire to move to the Chinese Super League or a combination of all three.
Eden Hazard, Pedro Rodriguez (pictured) and Willian were all excellent as part of a fluid and free-flowing front three. Two-goal hero Marcos Alonso delivered his best performance in a Chelsea shirt since moving to west London from Fiorentina in last summer’s transfer window. Conte’s charges have now triumphed in 14 of their last 15 top flight fixtures, a record which looks rather ominous for the division’s chasing pack.
Hull City collected a vital three points last time out, coming from a goal down to defeat Bournemouth 3-1 in front of their own supporters at the KCOM Stadium. That victory moved the Tigers level with 17th-placed Crystal Palace, with goal difference now the only thing keeping the promoted outfit in the bottom three, although the bookies do not fancy their chances of avoiding the drop judged by their unenviably position as favourites in the Premier League relegation betting odds.
Marco Silva, the former Olympiacos boss who replaced Mike Phelan earlier this month, has used three different formations in his three matches in charge of Hull but will probably opt for three at the back against the Blues. His team’s primary objective is likely to be centred on getting plenty of men behind the ball, sitting deep inside their own half of the field and attempting to spring forward with pace on the counter-attack when possession changes hands.
It is not yet clear whether or not Costa will be involved this weekend, but Hazard, Pedro and Willian demonstrated last weekend that the Blues can get by without the Brazil-born Spain international. Even if the striker is named in the home side’s matchday squad, Conte may opt to stick with the same starting XI that overcame Leicester so convincingly. N’Golo Kante and Nemanja Matic are set to continue in the centre of midfield and David Luiz, Gary Cahill and Cesar Azpilicueta are likely to keep their places in the heart of the three-man backline.
Hull will be missing Markus Henriksen, Will Keane, Allan McGregor, Greg Luer, Moses Odabaju and Alex Bruce. David Meyler and Shaun Maloney should be fit enough to feature. Robert Snodgrass will play in a No.10 role behind lone striker Abel Hernandez and will be tasked with finding space between the lines of midfield and defence, while Tom Huddlestone’s long passing will be key to the visitors’ chances of sparking counter-attacks. At the back, Harry Maguire, Curtis Davies and Michael Dawson will try to stick tight to Chelsea’s front three, although they will have to be wary about being dragged too far out of position.
Our preview’s Chelsea v Hull Betting Tips’ Verdict
Regardless of Hull’s upturn in fortunes in the last few weeks, Chelsea will surely pick up another win this weekend. The capital club do not have many weaknesses and continue to blow opponents away with their fantastic football going forward, while their solidity and resolve at the back means it is extremely difficult to create clear-cut chances against them.
Chelsea are 1/6 to win this match, but a home win in a game featuring more than 2.5 goals offers better value. The in-form Pedro looks a sensible selection in the anytime goalscorer market. So these are this preview’s Chelsea v Hull betting tips: