Sarri welcomes Hazard surprise

Chelsea boss Maurizio Sarri has no doubts that Blues forward Eden Hazard is already one of the best players in Europe and can still improve further.

The Belgium international completed a hat-trick as the Londoners saw off Cardiff City 4-1 at Stamford Bridge on Saturday, with his performance leaving Sarri purring with the quality on display.

And the Italian says he has been surprised in a good way by seeing Hazard close up for the first time.

He told reporters: "He can become maybe the best player in Europe in the next two years. He will improve by spending less time a long way away from goal.

"I thought Hazard was one of the best players in Europe, but now I'm changing my mind, maybe he's the best now. I also think he can improve more.

"When we have the ball in our half and touch it five or six times, with these actions he spends a lot of energy when he can have more energy in the last 20 or 25 metres.

"I think Hazard could score 30 or 35 goals, I think he can do it. Yesterday I said to him that for me he can score 40 goals, but he has to spend less energy far from the opposition goal and play in the last 25 metres."

Hazard joined the Blues in the summer of 2012 from French side Lille and has since scored 94 goals in 305 appearances in all competitions, while he has netted 27 goals in 94 outings for the Belgium national team.

Chelsea are 9/1 to win the Premeir League this season, while they are 7/1 to lift the FA Cup and 11/2 to triumph in the Europa League.

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Premier League: Hazard Fires Chelsea to the Top

Chelsea 4-1 Cardiff City

A superb hat-trick from Eden Hazard has sent Chelsea to the summit of the Premier League after coming from behind to thump Cardiff 4-1.

Sol Bamba fires the ball from the mid air earning them an early lead in the 1st half over Chelsea in the Premier League

Sol Mamba in the mid air and about to score a goal

Sol Bamba gave the Bluebirds a surprise early lead, but a brilliant first-half double from Hazard put Chelsea in charge. He made it three from the penalty spot, and then Willian climbed off the bench to add a sublime fourth.

Maurizio Sarri’s team has made the perfect start with five wins from five, but it’s going to be a long, hard season for Cardiff.

Highlights of the game

Any Premier League 2018 betting odds sneaking through to the Chelsea players, as they prepared for battle, will have alerted them that Liverpool had already won at Spurs to make it five straight wins. That seemed to be playing on their minds as they began the game in a ponderous mood. And that gave Cardiff the encouragement to come out and play.

And after winning a couple of corners, the visitors amazingly went ahead on 16 minutes. The Bluebirds had some success last week with set pieces against Arsenal, but clearly, Chelsea hadn’t taken too much notice. Skipper Sean Morrison got on the end of a free-kick, and his centre-back partner Sol Bamba was there in the six-yard box to poke the ball past Kepa.

That was enough to get Chelsea going, and Cardiff keeper Neil Etheridge prepared himself for an onslaught. He kept out an effort from Pedro soon after the restart, and then made a brilliant save to deny Mateo Kovacic.

Pedro was the man to inspire the Blues to a win last time out, against Bournemouth, and he had another two good chances as Chelsea cranked up the pressure before the hosts drew level on 37 minutes. It was a fantastic move from Chelsea, started and finished by Hazard. After a series of quick passes, Olivier Giroud laid the ball off for the Belgian wizard. He fired low and hard into the corner from the edge of the box.

Pedro played well despite missing a lot of chances and replaced by Willian in the Premier League Chelsea vs Cardiff City

Chelsea’s Pedro and Cardiff City’s Victor Camarasa fights for the ball

It was the same combination again, with more quick-footed play, which put Chelsea ahead before the break. Pedro crossed to Giroud, and the big Frenchman again teed up Hazard to score from close range.

That was a bad time for Cardiff to concede, on 44 minutes, but Coach Neil Warnock must have done a good job at halftime as his side came out fighting. Joe Ralls fizzed a shot wide and Bobby Reid came close, while at the other end Pedro missed again and was replaced by Willian to end his game.

The match seemed to be playing itself out, and it was well and truly over when Bamba floored Willian in the box and the referee had no hesitation in pointing to the spot. Who else but Hazard stepped forward to send Etheridge the wrong way?

But it was a little hard on Cardiff when Willian added another on 83 minutes with a brilliant individual goal, curling the ball just inside the far post.

Key statistics

Our us Premier League players had this down as a home banker at odds of 1.20, and so it turned out to be.

And we suggested the Bluebirds needed a miracle to get anything from their trip to Stamford Bridge. They gave it a real go in the first half but were ultimately outclassed.

So it’s five wins from five. Of the eight teams who have previously won their first five league fixtures, only two have gone on to lift the title…both were Chelsea.

The Blues have now scored in the last ten minutes in every game so far, and how about this for a stat? That’s the third time in a row Chelsea have beaten Cardiff 4-1 at Stanford Bridge!

You could have gotten odds of 14.00 on that…

What’s next?

The Chelsea players set off to play their Europa League fixture away to PAOK Salonica on Thursday; that will serve as a timely reminder how vital it is that they finish this season in the top four!

Then they visit West Ham, the only side without a point so far, but the East–West London clash is always a cracker.

Premier League 2018 betting odds have had Cardiff to be relegated from the moment they were promoted last May, and that’s the harsh reality of the toughest league in the world.

It doesn’t get any easier for the Bluebirds next week when they travel to Manchester City, and then the following week they visit Turf Moor to play a Burnley side determined to get their own season moving.

Disclaimer: Odds are correct at time of publish.

 

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Warnock calls for big effort

Neil Warnock knows that his Cardiff City side will be under the cosh for long spells on Saturday when they visit Chelsea.

The Bluebirds are without a win so far this season and are 4/11 to be relegated.

However, veteran manager Warnock has faith in his players and is convinced that they will give their all when they visit Stamford Bridge.

Cardiff are 7/1 to draw with Chelsea and 16/1 to grind out a goalless stalemate.

Warnock said: "We've got enough good players to get points off people we're supposed to get points off. We've got to use these next two games (Chelsea and Manchester City) to learn.

"The top sides always have a lot of possession so we're going to be under the cosh for a long time, but we've got to find a remedy. We've earned the right to play against teams like Chelsea.

"It will be interesting to see how we cope at a packed Stamford Bridge. It's one where we've got to get the best out of what we've got. I don't want to go there and not have a shot on target, but we've got to have players at their best abilities to give them a game."

Kante adjusting to new set-up

N'Golo Kante is enjoying himself in a slightly more attacking role in the Chelsea midfield, with head coach Maurizio Sarri having made tactical changes since his summer arrival.

Kante made his name as a holding midfielder with Leicester City before heading to Stamford Bridge in the summer of 2016, with the France World Cup 2018 winner initially occupying a similar role with the Londoners.

However, the arrival of Sarri to replace Antonio Conte has seen Kante shifted into a more forward position, with summer signing Jorginho acting as the anchor in the Blues' engine room.

And Kante is happy to adapt, as he told Sky Sports: "It's a new system with a new manager, new players and I enjoy being in this position to try and sometimes be in the box and then to be back defending.

"I will be more in front and I've already got many chances. I need to understand that in this position I will have to score to make a difference for the team. I need to be ready for that, but I haven't got a target.

"If I don't score any more but the team keep winning and I'm helping the team, I will be happy. However, when I do have the chance, I'd like to score of course."

Kante and Chelsea welcome Cardiff City to the Bridge on Saturday, with the visitors still searching for a first win since securing a return to the Premier League at the end of last season.

The hosts are 2/11 to win the game and are 11/2 to secure a 2-0 victory over the Bluebirds, with Kante priced at 7/2 to score at any time.

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Premier League: Bluebirds Need a Miracle!

Chelsea vs Cardiff City

After the opening rounds of the UEFA Nations League, we’re back with Premier League action at Stamford Bridge where Cardiff City are the visitors.

It’s Chelsea vs Cardiff in a game the hosts will expect to win, as they continue an early-season assault on the top spot. For the visitors, it’s a chance to show they can live with the best teams in England, and a tiny chance to get their first league win of the season.

Maurizio Sarri has made a perfect start at Chelsea, with four wins from four, and his team is already playing with a swagger which went missing last season.

The Bluebirds are back in the top flight after a four-year absence and they are under no illusion that survival will be a minor miracle. And according to the Premier League 2018 betting odds, it won’t look any brighter after this weekend.

But Neil Warnock’s teams always play with spirit and no little pragmatism, so Chelsea won’t expect the visitors to roll over.

Talking points

How long will Sarri stick around at the Bridge?

Can Chelsea satisfy Premier League 2018 Betting Odds and win vs Cardiff City

Eden Hazard aims to continue scoring for Chelsea as they face Cardiff City

After a stunning season with Napoli, the new Chelsea boss decided to have his first taste of English football, and it’s so far so good. But I’m sure he must know what he’s got himself into. He’s the 13th head coach at Stamford Bridge since Roma Abramovich took over at Chelsea.

He has the tools to do the job at the Bridge, with the record signing of goalkeeper Kepa, the excellent Cesar Azpilicueta in defence, and N’Golo Kante and Jorginho in midfield. The Blues have scored ten goals in their opening four wins, with Eden Hazard and Pedro scoring a couple each.

Premier League 2018 results elsewhere have put Chelsea second, a goal behind Liverpool and already ahead of Manchester City.

This was a side Antonio Conte couldn’t get to the Champions League last season, but the additions of Kepa and Jorginho make them title contenders once again.

Can Neil Warnock finally keep a team in the Premier League?

Cardiff City are eyeing a positive Premier League 2018 Results

Sean Morrison is expected to lead Cardiff City in their first win this season

He has overseen a record eight promotions in a managerial career spanning 38 years and 16 clubs, but Warnock is seen as a Championship specialist rather than a Premier league survivor.

His beloved Sheffield United was relegated under his watch in 2007, and he has subsequently been sacked by both Queens Park Rangers and Crystal Palace as each club languished at the wrong end of the table.

Warnock’s team went out of the Carabao Cup after a 1-3 home defeat to Championship club Norwich City but they put up a better show against Arsenal, losing 2-3. Cardiff plays no-nonsense football, getting the ball forward quickly and playing with their greater strength at the back. Skipper Sean Morrison is the heartbeat of the team, and he has power alongside him in the form of Sol Bamba and Bruno Ecuele Manga.

Going forward, Harry Arter is the standout player, with the former Bournemouth star adding some quality.

History

The newcomers may look like relegation fodder, but Cardiff are more stable than the last time they were in the Premier League, with managers in and out and the team playing in red at the behest of owner Vincent Tan. He thought red would appeal more to global supporters, which is not much good if you get relegated.

The fans hated it and Tan saw sense so they are now back in blue, a good thing for the Bluebirds!

Cardiff have two points after goalless draws with relegation rivals Huddersfield Town and Newcastle United, but they have yet to get a win or taste success against Chelsea. In their last season in the top flight, they suffered a double defeat at the hands of Chelsea, 1-2 in South Wales and then a 4-1 drubbing at Stamford Bridge.

The only other clash in the Premier League era resulted in an FA Cup win for Chelsea, back in 2010, again by a 4-1 scoreline.

Betting tip

??
Chelsea vs Cardiff City Chelsea Asian Handicap -2.00 @ 1.99
September 15, 22:00(GMT+8)

I really can’t see anything other than a comfortable Chelsea win here; anything else would be a serious shock. The us odds at 1.20 for a home win, 6.00 for a draw and 14.00 for a Cardiff triumph tell the story. It’s going to be a long afternoon for Warnock’s side.

We expect goals, with Over 3 available at 1.83, but what will the final result be?

Well, 2-0 is at 5.80 and 3-0 is 6.80. AOS is 6.40, which basically means Chelsea to score five or more; or Cardiff to score five or more!

If you fancy Chelsea to continue the habit of thumping Cardiff 4-1, then you can get odds of 14.00. And that’s just as likely as a Cardiff win by any score.

A SHORT EXPLANATION ON HOW OUR (??) BETS ARE WORTH:
?? = €20 (Highly confident) ?? = €10 (CONFIDENT) ?? = €5 (SOMEWHAT CONFIDENT)

Disclaimer: Odds are correct at time of publish.

 

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Luiz a big Sarri supporter

Chelsea defender David Luiz has hailed Maurizio Sarri as a "great coach" and insisted the Italian can bring the title back to Stamford Bridge.

Luiz fell out of favour under former boss Antonio Conte last season and was heavily linked with a move away from the Blues during the summer transfer window.

The Brazil international has re-established himself as a key man under Sarri, having started all four Premier League games so far this season.

Chelsea have a perfect record so far in the Premier League this season with 12 points from four games ahead of the visit of Cardiff on Saturday.

Having reignited his second stint at Chelsea, Luiz has taken time out to pay tribute to the former Napoli manager for the job he is doing and the impression he has created in the dressing room so far.

"First of all he's a great person, great as a human," Luiz told Chelsea's website. "I think his philosophy to live life is already great because he wants to enjoy every day, he wants to be happy and he wanted to take this opportunity to start one more chapter in his life.

"I think that is one of the most important things in life: when you love to do something, when you're happy.

"So, I believe in this philosophy, and then after that he is a great coach. He wants to play with the ball, he wants to play with intensity, to work on the details and to give us all the information he can about the next game and the opponent."

Chelsea are 1/6 to win against Cardiff on Saturday. The Welsh outfit are 16/1 while the draw is 11/2.

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Ramsey: Gunners getting stronger

Arsenal midfielder Aaron Ramsey says that Arsenal are adapting well to the changes of the summer and go into the international break with confidence growing.

After starting the new Premier League season with two defeats, they now have two weeks off on the back of successive victories.

Their latest was a 3-2 thriller away at Cardiff to leave Neil Warnock's side still searching for their first win back in the top flight.

Arsenal went ahead on 11 minutes, Granit Xhaka's corner being met perfectly by the head of Shkodran Mustafi and it powered into the net giving Neil Etheridge no chance in the Cardiff goal.

However the home side were level just before the break with their first goal of the new Premier League season, though Arsenal contributed with defensive mistakes, Xhaka losing possession and Victor Camarasa got the better of Nacho Monreal to fire home and send the home crowd into half-time on a high.

Buoyed by that equaliser Neil Warnock's side began the second half brightly but the Gunners began to step up the pressure and were rewarded by another goal just after the hour mark, with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang scoring with an excellent finish but again the Bluebirds responded.

Little more than five minutes later they were level again with a ball into the Arsenal box again asking questions of the Gunners' defence and Danny Ward headed home.

There was though time for Arsenal to score a third, decisive goal, Alexandre Lacazette finding space in the penalty area to turn and shoot past Etheridge.

There was no time for Cardiff to respond and Arsenal leave with the three points although questions remain over their defensive strength.

However, Ramsey was confident the squad will grow stronger as the season continues as they come to terms with the new management approach of Unai Emery.

He said: "We know it is a process and every game we improve that little bit and get stronger and stronger. Hopefully can come back from International break and really kick on."

Arsenal are back in action on 15th September with a trip to Tyneside to take on a Newcastle side still searching for their first win of the season.

The Gunners are 4/5, Rafa Benitez's side are 15/4 with the draw 12/5. Arsenal are 9/1 to win the game 2-0.

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Sarri: Still some way to go

Chelsea head coach Maurizio Sarri is adamant that being genuine Premier League title contenders remains a massive task for his in-form side.

A 2-0 home victory over Bournemouth made it four league wins out of four for the Blues, with Sarri having enjoyed a perfect start to his Stamford Bridge tenure.

However, the former Napoli boss was not getting carried away after seeing his side down the Cherries, insisting that closing the 30-point gap which existed between Chelsea and champions Manchester City last season is a massive ask.

The Italian told reporters: "I'm very happy with 12 points in four matches, but I always think we can do more. We can improve.

"I think now for us it's better to think of the next match, because the gap at the beginning was 30 points. I think it's very difficult to cover this gap in only one season.

"I'm very happy with the four matches, but I think only, starting from now, to the next match, not to the end of the season."

Sarri and his players now have a two-week interval before their next outing, with newly-promoted Cardiff City the visitors on Saturday September 15th.

The Bluebirds were beaten 4-1 when they last visited Stamford Bridge in October 2013, with Eden Hazard scoring two of the the goals for the hosts.

Chelsea are 1/6 to defeat Cardiff again and are 6/1 to do so by a 3-0 scoreline, with the Blues now 10/1 to end the season as Premier League champions.

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Warnock desperate to break duck

Cardiff City boss Neil Warnock is hoping his side's problems in front of goal will come to an end on Sunday when the Bluebirds take on Arsenal.

Cardiff have failed to score in their first three Premier League games of the campaign, although they have got two points after goalless draws against Huddersfield Town and Newcastle United.

Warnock's team, who lost 2-0 at Bournemouth on the opening weekend of the season, were also knocked out of the Carabao Cup on Tuesday when they were beaten 3-1 at home by Championship side Norwich City.

The veteran Cardiff manager insists he has been happy with his team's displays in the first three weeks of the season though, saying: "I think the lads have given everything they can and I've been quite pleased with the performances. In every game, we could have got something.

"But as you go higher up the leagues you've got to take your chances. I want to enjoy the games against the big boys, if that's possible. My tactics have got to reflect that, and that's by giving us a chance to score goals."

Cardiff, who are 12/1 to draw 0-0 against the Gunners, can be backed at 18/1 to beat Unai Emery's side 1-0.

December return for Mendez-Laing

Cardiff City boss Neil Warnock hopes that Nathaniel Mendez-Laing will be able to return to Premier League action by December.

The 26-year-old former Rochdale winger injured his posterior cruciate ligament during Saturday's goalless draw at Huddersfield Town and looks set to be out of action for three months, which is better news than was initially feared.

Speaking after the Bluebirds had been beaten 3-1 at home by Norwich City in the second round of the Carabao Cup, Warnock said: "Nathaniel Mendez-Laing has done his posterior cruciate ligament, which is good news, my physio said, because if he'd done his anterior, he'd be out for the season.

"He'll take about three months to recover and hopefully be back in December."

Warnock is also upbeat about the injuries Junior Hoilett and Aron Gunnarsson are currently recovering from, adding: "We're crossing our fingers and hoping that Junior will train around Friday.

"If he's anywhere near fit, he'll play on Sunday because that's the type of lad he is, but I won't risk him if he's not.

"[Aron] Gunnarsson is training well at the moment and there's one or two others with little niggles that we're hoping will clear up before the weekend."

Cardiff have failed to score in their first three Premier League matches of the season and are 4/9 to be relegated this term. Meanwhile, they are available at 9/2 to beat Arsenal on Sunday. Unai Emery's team are 5/4 to keep a clean sheet in the match.