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Maccabi Tel Aviv visit a welcome respite for struggling Chelsea

16 Sep | BY Betway | MIN READ TIME |
Maccabi Tel Aviv visit a welcome respite for struggling Chelsea

Comparisons between Jose Mourinho's struggles now and eight years ago are premature, but the Blues boss needs a first home win of the season

An otherwise ordinary-looking home tie against Maccabi Tel Aviv has taken on added significance due to Chelsea’s appalling form in the Premier League.

Because, by overseeing the club’s worst domestic start for 29 years, manager Jose Mourinho finds himself in a very unfamiliar position.

The specialist in winning – to paraphrase the man himself – is failing.

The London club’s three defeats in five matches is as many as they suffered in the entirety of last season’s title-winning campaign, while the 11-point gap between them and league leaders Manchester City already appears insurmountable.

It is inevitable that comparisons will be made between Wednesday’s fixture against the Israeli side and the Champions League opener against Rosenborg at Stamford Bridge eight years ago.

That match ended in an underwhelming 1-1 draw and Mourinho, who had been under increasing pressure after failing to win the club’s previous two top-flight fixtures, soon exited the club.

But this time – for now, at least – it is different.

Despite enduring a significantly worse start than in 2007/08, the Portuguese appears to retain a stable enough relationship with owner Roman Abramovich.

That is crucial.

The change in competition, meanwhile, is ideal for the club to arrest their current slump and they are 1/6 to win for the first time on home soil this campaign.

Mourinho is expected to make several changes for the visit of the Israeli champions, dropping captain John Terry, Branislav Ivanovic, Nemanja Matic and Diego Costa.

Loic Remy, who has not featured for the Blues since playing the first-half of the Community Shield at the start of last month, should start in attack.

The Frenchman, who found the net nine times last season, is 4/1 to open the scoring and 5/1 to strike twice or more.

Brazilian playmaker Oscar is likely to play in support of Remy and is 7/4 to register at any point during the 90 minutes.

Maccabi are managed by Slavisa Jokanovic – the former Watford boss who played for Chelsea for two years at the turn of the century.

The Serbian’s side are unbeaten in all competitions this season – reaching the group stages on away goals after drawing 3-3 on aggregate with Swiss side Basel – and are 16/1 to inflict a third consecutive defeat on the Blues and 6/1 to draw.

If they are to achieve a positive result, then the contribution of their talisman Eran Zahavi will be crucial.

The forward has scored 12 goals in 10 matches this season – including seven in the Champions League pre-qualifying rounds – and is 11/2 to score at any time.

That is not unlikely considering the Blues have already conceded 12 in the league so far – a figure that took them 15 games to reach last season.

But Chelsea have too much quality to not win this match and are priced at 9/4 to win with both teams scoring.

And while the Group G opener offers a brief respite, attention on Chelsea’s domestic form will soon resume.

Starting with the visit of Mourinho’s old foe Arsene Wenger on Saturday lunchtime.

Chelsea v Maccabi Tel Aviv betting

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