Chelsea heading towards opening-day draw with Hull without Mata

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Chelsea could be without three players for their Premier League opener with Hull because of international duty and although the absences of Fernando Torres or Cesar Azpilicueta are unlikely to really impact the result, Juan Mata’s nonappearance could prove harmful to their chances of victory.

The Blues are widely expected to mark Jose Mourinho’s second coming with a home win at 1/5, but in the seven Premier League games that Mata failed to start in the previous campaign, Chelsea triumphed in just one, which was at home to Wigan.

Mata didn’t start either of the games with eventual bottom club QPR, from who Chelsea took just one point in the away game, while Fulham also left Stamford Bridge with a point.

Given Mourinho’s wondrous home record in his first stint at Chelsea, where he avoided defeat in all 38 Premier League games in charge, it is difficult to anticipate Hull leaving with all three points.

But the 11/2 that they draw with Chelsea on the opening day does have new mileage to it.

Mata, Torres and Azpilicueta could all theoretically be called up for the Spanish national team just two days before the big kick-off for a friendly in Ecuador.

The good news for Chelsea is that they are not short of creative influences in midfield without Mata, as the likes of Eden Hazard, Oscar, Victor Moses and Andre Schurrle are others that could string-pull in his position.

Meanwhile, these two sides have history when it comes to meeting on the first day of a new Premier League season, with Chelsea triumphing 2-1 at Stamford Bridge in the 2009/10 campaign when Didier Drogba struck an injury-time winner.

A repeat of that scoreline is 10/1, with both teams to score priced at 11/8 and Hull 9/2 to bag the opener again, as they did with Stephen Hunt’s goal four years ago.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.

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Craig Kemp

Craig has written for Ladbrokes since the 2010 World Cup, having previously gained a Media & Sports Journalism degree and contributed to publications including the Racing Post. His main areas of interest are horse racing and UFC, but he is also an avid X Factor gambler and likes nothing more than indulging in a spot of Hip Hop Karaoke.