Middlesbrough v Chelsea: Conte’s new system to pay dividends again

Chelsea’s defence of the Premier League title last season was nothing short of a disaster. The Blues went off favourites to retain their domestic crown under Jose Mourinho and finished 10th. A year on and Antonio Conte in is charge at Stamford Bridge and after some initial teething problems the Italian is getting a fine tune out of his side.

The Londoners head north for Sunday’s clash with newly promoted Middlesbrough who are 11/2 (6.50) with Coral to shock their in-form visitors. The same firm make Chelsea the 4/7 (1.57) favourites and that’s an industry best price at the time of writing, demonstrating just how much of a mismatch this is expected to be. The draw is a 3/1 (4.0) chance.

Great Football odds at Coral

Backing the away side at 4/7 (1.57) is unlikely to entice too many punters as a single wager. Although Conte’s men are clearly the most likely winners, the task for bettors is finding an angle which provides both a decent chance of winning and a solid potential return.

This is where the changes that the Italian manager has made in the past few weeks could come in. Following a 3-0 defeat to London rivals Arsenal which left him on the brink of being sacked according to some media outlets, Conte decided to change to a 3-4-3 formation. This meant an extra man in the backline while utilising new signing Marcus Alonso and Victor Moses as wing-backs who could provide cover defensively but also an outlet going forward.

Since then, Chelsea’s results in the Premier League read: Played 5, won 5, scored 16, conceded 0. That includes victories over champions Leicester City, Manchester United and Everton last time out who were swept aside by a whopping 5-0 scoreline.

With that in mind back Chelsea to win to nil (I.e without conceding a goal) at an industry best price of 6/4 (2.50) with Coral looks like a cracking wager for Sunday’s game. This selection has landed in the last six head-to-head meetings between the two sides, a run of results that has seen the Blues triumph by an aggregate scoreline of 15-0.

The visitors can be backed at 31/20 (2.55) with a -1 handicap but considering that Boro have kept it relatively tight at the back themselves this season, only being beaten by a two-goal margin twice, it could be another close game. That said, it is the hosts’ issues going forward that will be the biggest concern to former Real Madrid assistant Aitor Karanka.

Middlesbrough have mustered just 10 goals in 11 Premier League games this season, failing to net in three games thus far and while home advantage will determine Karanka instructs his side to go on the offensive, whether they can break down a visiting defence that have kept five consecutive clean sheets is another matter.

Both teams to score “No” is a 5/6 (1.83) chance with Coral, that too appeals but it’s tough to see Chelsea failing to find the net at the Riverside so the additional juice in the 6/4 (2.50) Win to Nil price looks the best way to go, especially given how well the Blues’ have been playing since this change in approach.

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