Who: Sunderland AFC vs. Chelsea FC
What: Capital One Cup (Quarterfinals)
Where: Stadium Of Light, Sunderland, England, United Kingdom
When: Tuesday, December 17, 2013
Weather: The Weather Channel forecast Sunderland
Time: 19:45 GMT/3:45 p.m. EDT/12:45 p.m. PDT
TV: beIN Sport USA, beIN Sport Play (US); Sky Go UK, Sky Sports 1/HD, Sky Sports 1 Ireland, NOW TV powered by Sky (UK)
Worldwide Livestream and TV Channels: LiveSoccerTV.com
Radio: SiriusXM FC - Sirius Channel 94 (Internet 94)
Referee: Anthony Taylor
3-Way Odds: Sunderland +500, Chelsea -200, Draw +300
Total: Over 2½ -155, Under 2½ +120
Decimal Odds: Sunderland 6.00, Chelsea 1.50, Draw 4.00
Decimal Total: Over 2½ 1.65, Under 2½ 2.20
Fractional Odds: Sunderland 5/1, Chelsea 1/2, Draw 3/1
Fractional Total: Over 2½ 20/31, Under 2½ 6/5
Alternate Odds: Chelsea -1 Even, Sunderland +1 -130
Chelsea -1½ +130, Sunderland +1½ -120
Over 3½ +175, Under 3½ -230
First Half: Chelsea -1 +240, Sunderland +1 -335
Odds To Win Capital One Cup: Chelsea 11/4, Sunderland 25/1
Source: Bovada (Kahnawake, Canada)
3-Way Odds: Sunderland +600, Chelsea -210, Draw +325
Total: Over 2½ -140, Under 2½ +120
Alternate Odds: Chelsea -1 -120, Sunderland +1 Even
Source: LVH SuperBook (Las Vegas, Nevada, USA)
Chelsea plays in its third straight different competition and in its third game in seven days when it travels to the Stadium of Light on Tuesday to face Sunderland in the quarterfinals of the Capital One Cup.
The Blues (9-3-3, 30 points in English Premier League play) are coming off of a hard-fought 2-1 win over Crystal Palace on Saturday at Stamford Bridge in which Fernando Torres and Ramires scored for the home side to keep Chelsea in the thick of the race and comfortably near the top of the Premier League standings.
Sunderland (2-3-11 9 points) and manager Gus Poyet played West Ham United to an uneventful 0-0 draw on Saturday at Upton Park and now sits dangerously in 20th place, four points behind the next closest two clubs (Fulham, Crystal Palace) as the season approaches the halfway mark.
The Black Cats have the least number of wins in England’s top flight (two), are tied for the most goals allowed with Fulham (30), haven’t scored away from home since Aug. 21 and have four players—Phillip Bardsley, Steven Fletcher, Craig Gardner and Emanuele Giaccherini—with two goals apiece as their leading scorers. In stark contrast, Arsenal’s Theo Walcott scored two goals in 32 minutes in the Gunners’ 6-3 loss to the Sky Blues at the Etihad on Saturday.
But despite scoring just 12 goals all season in league play, Sunderland has scored eight goals in its three Capital One Cup games heading into this showdown with Europa League champions Chelsea.
Sunderland—which has never won a League Cup—defeated Milton Keynes Dons in Round 2 (4-2), Peterborough United in Round 3 (2-0) and Southampton in Round 4 (2-1), all at home in the friendly confines of the Stadium of Light. But trying to paint the Blues black should prove to be quite the challenge for these unpredictable Tyne and Wear felines.
Besides the quartet of two-goal scorers, the Black Cats also have some guys who could be key cogs in a strong attack in Fabio Borini, Jozy Altidore and Adam Johnson, and at home here with nothing to really lose with their league season going down the toilet, Sunderland could very well upset Chelsea if the bounces somehow go its way.
Hey, this is soccer. Anything could happen as is proven every week. But is this game a good gambling proposition, brother? That’s what we want to know. We have Christmas presents to buy. And the Magic 8-Ball says...”You betcha.” Wow. I had absolutely no clue that Monsieur 8-Ball was a Palin. Let’s try to attack this one from a couple of different fronts.
And the first area of concern would be motivation, but Chelsea manager José Mourinho made it quite clear with his comments in the Daily Mail last week that he wants at least one trophy from his boys this year.
“We’re natural winners. This is the culture I want at this club and for our young players to understand. I’ve never had a season where I didn’t win a thing,” Mourinho said. “Last season (at Real Madrid) was the worst, only the Spanish Super Cup. A little bit, but something.”
So anyone thinking The Special One will downplay the Capital One Cup and a chance to win this trophy simply doesn’t understand the psychological makeup of the Sultan of Setubal or Chelsea’s desire as a team to try to win everything, everywhere. Bringing silverware back to SW6 in the name of the game, celery breath. The motivation will be there.
Mourinho and the Blues—who have won this tournament four times—advanced to this point by winning road games against Swindon Town (2-0) and Arsenal (2-0), so a third straight clean sheet win by goalkeeper Petr Cech would by a lovely way to advance to the semifinals, but the Blues usually stout defense has been a bit leaky of late so who really knows.
The depth of Chelsea’s attacking midfield is a big reason the team is in the thick of the Premier League race as well as in the knockout stage of the UEFA Champions League and a true challenge for Sunderland here with Juan Mata, Eden Hazard, Oscar, Andre Schurrle and Willian all starting to understand and play their roles on this oh-so deep roster.
And one player who has been absolutely tearing it up and outshining many of the Blues bigger names lately is Brazilian midfielder Ramires who, with his speed, keeps the pace on offense in fifth gear as it often needs to be with this group of talented players.
For this game, veteran Ashley Cole is expected to be back at his usual left-back spot on defense while fellow defender Branislav Ivanovic is suspended and will miss the game after receiving a yellow card on Saturday in the victory over Crystal Palace.
In the end, expectations and talent should win the day here and Chelsea should play a very good game, click offensively and score two goals in each half en route to a very easy win in a fairly high-scoring game as Demba Ba, John Obi-Mikel, Frank Lampard and Schurrle or Mata tally the goals in a romp.
With this in mind, taking Chelsea on the money line, laying a goal and laying a goal-and-a-half is the prescription, as a two-goal win over the worst team in the Premier League would result in three separate wins. And wagering on the Over 2½ (-155) is also recommended, as the visitors may go over the posted total themselves.
This seems like a really great game to profit from by going with the simple premises that the Blues will win by at least two and there will be at least three goals scored. When these two clubs met on Dec. 4 here in Sunderland in league play, Chelsea won a 4-3 shootout, so recent relevant data backs this hopefully logical approach heading in.
The draw for the semi-finals will be held on Dec. 18 (Wednesday) with the first leg of the semifinals scheduled for the week of Jan. 6 and the second leg commencing the week of Jan. 20.
In Tuesday’s other quarterfinal match, Manchester City is at upstart Championship side Leicester City while on Wednesday, West Ham United travels to Tottenham Hotspur and Stoke City hosts Manchester United. So a Chelsea-City-Spurs-United final four is still a distinct possibility.
Next up on Chelsea’s schedule after this Capital One Cup meeting with Sunderland is a highly anticipated London derby on Christmas Eve Eve (Dec. 23) with league-leaders Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium (NBC Sports Network Live Extra, 3 p.m. ET/12 p.m. PT).
Safe to say, you’ll be watching that one for sure along with the rest of the world.
As far as this one, though, possibly less entertaining and competitive as the coming Gunners date, it does appear like a pretty good opportunity to make a little bit of money on an expected Chelsea win. Good luck.
PREDICTION: Chelsea 4 Sunderland 1
BETS: Chelsea -200; Chelsea -1 Even; Chelsea -1½ +130; Over 2½ -155; Over 3½ +175.
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