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Battle of brilliant backlines as Chelsea host Southampton

Chelsea, odds-on at 8/13 with Coral to triumph, must bounce back from their midweek Champions League blues and put in a performance worthy of Premier League leaders against upstarts Southampton.

Unbeaten at home in the league this season, Jose Mourinho’s men unsurprisingly bear all the hallmarks of a vintage ‘Special One’ side. The Blues boast the best defensive record in the top flight and have conceded just five goals at fortress Stamford Bridge.

With this is mind, the Blues are available at a super 7/4 to win to nil in Coral’s majestic matchday special (punters should note there is a maximum stake of £20 for this bet).

Having been defeated in just one of their last 12 duels with surprise package Saints across all competitions, history is certainly weighted in favour of Chelsea.

The title chasers should worry less about their own defence, however, and come up with a formula to find a way past Ronald Koeman’s robust rearguard.

Southampton are only second to the London club for fewest goals conceded in the league and, with star centre back Toby Alderweireld potentially back to partner impressive Jose Fonte, should provide a stern test.

Chelsea need dynamic duo Diego Costa and Cesc Fabregas to find their early season form again and help put the south coast club to the sword. Fiery forward and top scorer Costa is 10/3 to get back into the swing of things by firing home first, while partner in crime Fabregas is the same price to strike anytime.

Electric Eden Hazard’s magic saved a point for the Blues last time these two teams battled, so the brilliant Belgian is to 7/4 in the anytime market to bamboozle the top four hopefuls again. Should the silk of of Fabregas and co fail, battering ram Didier Drogba is on hand to provide the steel at 5/1 and have the final say.

With Nemanja Matic set to shake off an ankle injury and retain his spot as midfield shield, Southampton (11/2 to take all three points) will also face a tough task to breach the Bridge.

The Saints did split the spoils with Chelsea at St Mary’s earlier this season (and are 11/4 to repeat that feat), but were in scintillating form back then.

Poacher Graziano Pelle’s goals may have dried up recently, but the Italy international is still a threat at 10/3 to catch Chelsea out anytime.

Senegal starlet Sadio Mane, meanwhile, has stepped up to ease the pressure on Pelle. After netting the only goal last time out against Crystal Palace, and the opener against Chelsea in the reverse, magic Mane is 10/1 to draw first blood again.

Exciting loan signing Eljero Elia’s pace should also trouble the Blues and the fleet-footed wingman is 11/2 to trouble Chelsea anytime.