2018 Chelsea Betting Preview
Chelsea, as reigning champions after the 2016-17 Premier League season, have failed to defend their championship in the past campaign and this resulted to some changes at the Stamford Bridge.
Although The Blues have lifted the FA Cup by winning the 2018 final against rivals Manchester United, Antonio Conte was dismissed as Chelsea manager on 13 July.
This was not unexpected, considering the fact that Chelsea finished fifth in the Premier League and thereby failed to qualify for the UEFA Champions League, and given Roman Abramovich's nature.
The Russian owner of the Londoners is well-known for his impatience and Conte became another victim of his high demanding.
Maurizio Sarri – the new Emperor in charge of the ROMAN Empire
Another Italian was appointed as manager of Chelsea on the day after Conte's dismissal. Maurizio Sarri, the 59-year-old Naples-born coach, who lacks trophies in his career, but has attracted many admirers for his attacking style. He couldn't win the Scudetto with his former club Napoli, although they were the main contenders to end Juventus' hegemony last season, and Sarri will now have an even tougher challenge in his first appointment abroad.
Maurizio Sarri has so far led domestic clubs only, with Napoli being the peak of his career before moving to Chelsea. He won several individual awards, including Serie A Coach of the Year in 2017, while managing the Partenopei, and after finishing as league runner-up in the past Calcio campaign, Sarri was obviously tempted by the opportunity to work in England.
Sarri won't be the only Italian with a key position at “Stamford Bridge” however. In addition to all staff members who have arrived with him in London, he will be supported by his assistants Gianfranco Zola, who played for Chelsea in period 1996-2003, and Carlo Cudicini, who played for The Blues in period 1999-2009.
Preseason Changes and Summer Transfers
On 14 July 2018, the same day when Sarri was hired at Chelsea, Jorginho signed for the London club for a transfer fee of £50 million with more £7 million in potential add-ons. The former Napoli player was also the main transfer target of Manchester City's boss Pep Guardiola. This has made the versatile midfielder one of the most expensive soccer signings this summer, but Jorginho's arrival was not really the biggest spending of the Londoners.
Even though Chelsea was reluctant to sell out their best players, one of them has been successfully seduced by Real Madrid's flattery. Belgian goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois, who was recently awarded the Golden Glove as the best goalkeeper of the 2018 World Cup in Russia, decided to join the Spanish club and this required quick response by The Blues.
On 8 August, the day before the transfer market deadline day in England, it was officially announced that young Spanish goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga is set for a Premier League move. Arrizabalaga arrived at “Stamford Bridge” from another Spanish La Liga side – Athletic Bilbao and the £71.6 million paid by Chelsea have made him the world's most expensive goalkeeper. This happened a few weeks after the previous record was set by another EPL club – when Alisson joined Liverpool.
Apart from Kepa's record-breaking move, Chelsea has also signed with Croatian midfielder Mateo Kovacic, who comes on loan from Real Madrid for a one-year deal. Maurizio Sarri also decided to add more to his goalkeeping options by signing veteran Robert Green (free transfer) who should be his third-choice.
In addition to Thibaut Courtois's departure, Chelsea was left by many players who were loaned at different clubs. The most notable of them are Kurt Zouma (Everton), Tiemoue Bakayoko (AC Milan), Kenedy (Newcastle United) and Michy Batshuayi (Valencia).
Sarri's decision to loan Michy Batshuayi was perhaps the most discussable one since the Belgian attacker could provide more attacking depth to the squad. Nevertheless, we should not underestimate the player's intention to play regularly and it seems that he wasn't the first option in Maurizio Sarri's game plan. Furthermore, Sarri can still rely on the local boy Tammy Abraham, who played for Swansea City in the past Premier League season.
The Blues may have lost the FA Community Shield duel with Manchester City, but that was a game where the Londoners were without some key starters and also in the early days of Maurizio Sarri's reign. With the return of quality players like N'Golo Kante, Eden Hazard, Willian and Olivier Giroud, and the presence of some younger lads like Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Ross Barkley, Maurizio Sarri surely has some excellent options to build his starting XI.
Our impressions after Chelsea's 3-0 away win over Huddersfield Town
New players will probably need some time to fully adapt to the Premier League standard, but Maurizio Sarri didn't hesitate to trust them from the outset. We saw both Kepa and Jorginho in the starting lineup for the 3-0 victory against Huddersfield Town last weekend. Jorginho, who scored a penalty to make the score 2-0, also started for Chelsea in the FA Community Shield match, while Kepa made his debut in Huddersfield and recorded a clean sheet respectively.
Eden Hazard was extremely effective for the short time he played, as he came on the pitch in the closing part when he produced a magnificent individual effort and delivered the ball for the third goal scored by Pedro.
Sarri has changed N'Golo Kante's position slightly following the capture of Jorginho. The World Cup champion started on the right of a central midfield trio instead of anchoring and is being asked to motor through even more gears than last season. Having one of the best midfielders in the world in your squad is quite an advantage.
It's obvious that Maurizio Sarri still has work to do, but it's always important to kick-off the year with a win. These three points will boost Chelsea's morale before their first home game of the season against the London rivals Arsenal on Saturday, where a potential victory will put them in an even more favorable position before the trip to Newcastle and the two home matches against AFC Bournemouth and Cardiff City next month.
Betting on Chelsea
Chelsea remains in the shadow of the main title contenders right now, but what we have learned from the past Premier League editions is that a team which spends a lot should never be underestimated so early. That spending was somehow required considering they have finished outside the top four last season and the outgoing transfer of a top-quality goalkeeper like Courtois.
We have all reasons to believe that Chelsea will become stronger under Maurizio Sarri with each new week. Moreover, a good run in the opening rounds may actually boost their confidence and make them believe that they can claim the Premier League.
Last but not least, Chelsea won't play Champions League soccer this season and they can fully focus on the EPL. Yet, The Blues will play in the UEFA Europa League, but we all know that major teams often afford to field their B squads there and we believe the Premier League is their main priority.
Our partners from Bookmaker are offering +1500 on Chelsea to win the league. However, if you can't see them becoming champions this season you can still place a bet on Chelsea to finish in Top 4. Bookmaker, again, offers -145 for this betting market which seems to be a really reasonable bet when Chelsea is expected to fully focus on its domestic campaign.
Potential Starting Lineup of Chelsea for the 2018-19 Premier League Season: Kepa Arrizabalaga – Marcos Alonso, Antonio Rudiger, David Luiz, Cesar Azpilicueta – Ross Barkley, Jorginho, N'Golo Kante – Eden Hazard, Alvaro Morata, Willian. (4-3-3)