The second coming of Jose Mourinho finally gets under way at Stamford Bridge on Sunday when Chelsea take on Hull City for their opening weekend fixture.
Last year, Chelsea won 2-0 away at Wigan on the opening day of the campaign and have the best opening day record in the Premier League era: winning 44 points. Combine this with the fact that Mourinho is once again at the helm, then anything less than a win in this fixture would be a big surprise.
Hull are making their first appearance in the Premier League after being absent for the last few years, and it is likely that manager Steve Bruce would have preferred a much easier start. Hull have a horrible record away from home on the opening day (last victory was in 2002 against Exeter) and a trip to Stamford Bridge does not bode well for the visitors.
It is no surprise then that Pinnacle Sports have Chelsea to win at odds of just 1.200 in a 1×2 bet. However, if you want value for your money and fancy Hull, then you can get them at 19.500, meaning if you bet £10 you will get £195 back if Hull come out on top.
Chelsea have signed Marco van Ginkel and Andre Schurrle this summer and both players are in line to make their debuts on Saturday. Michael Essien has also returned from his loan at Real Madrid and could feature in Mourinho’s plans. The most interesting selection Mourinho will make will be who plays up front for the Blues. Fernando Torres, Demba Ba and recently returned Romelu Lukaku could all start up front.
Hull have made several signings so far and could give debuts to all of them. Scotland keeper Alan McGregor has arrived from Besiktas while Maynor Figueroa and Curtis Davies have been brought in to strengthen the defence. Tom Huddlestone and Jake Livermore have made the move from Tottenham, and Danny Graham and Yannick Sagbo will both want to make their mark on Hull’s attack. Stephen Quinn will be the only absentee with a hamstring injury (Telegraph).
Eurosport have some interesting statistics for both teams involved in this fixture:
Chelsea are unbeaten in their last four Premier League games against Hull.
Hull have failed to beat Chelsea on their last 19 trips to Stamford Bridge.
Chelsea have won 12 and drawn 2 of their last 14 games on the opening weekend of the league campaign.
Chelsea – Juan Mata
Mata was one of the standout players in the Premier League last year, getting 12 assists (the most of all Chelsea players) and scoring 12 goals (second only to Frank Lampard). He created 95 assists over the course of the league season, 61 of which were from open play. He created a further 14 clear-cut chances, meaning each one came every 196 minutes on average. The only way is up for the Spaniard and in a world cup year especially, Mata will likely be in brilliant form for Chelsea in this match and the season as a whole.
Hull City – Danny Graham
Graham didn’t have the best of seasons last year and found it hard to make an impact both at Swansea and Sunderland. The previous season however was much better for him as he scored 12 goals for the Swans, making him the club’s highest goal scorer. With 37 of his 64 shots reaching the target, the striker had a shooting accuracy of 58%. If Graham can repeat that level of performance at Hull this season, then he will be difficult to handle and certainly won’t make it easy for the Chelsea defence on Sunday.
Hull will be in buoyant mood considering they are making their return to the Premier League but I can’t look past Chelsea for this one. They have the better team, the return of Mourinho and the opening day record on their side – not to mention the home advantage of Stamford Bridge of course. I think it will be a comfortable win for the Blues – 3-0.
As mentioned before, Pinnacle Sports have Chelsea as favourites to win at odds of 1.200, and Hull at 19.500. If you think the game could end in a draw, then you can put money on that at odds of 7.400.