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Champions Chelsea begin title defence against Swansea

Premier League champions Chelsea, 2/5 odds-on favourites for victory with Coral, begin their bid to retain the title at Stamford Bridge against ambitious Swansea City.

Jose Mourinho’s men have a fine recent record against the Swans, having smashed nine past them in their previous two duels, so are superb 9/2 chances to score four or more against them again in their third tussle on the trot.

Considering the Blues’ formidable form when playing at the Bridge, it is tough to see how Garry Monk can mastermind a famous win for his side here.

Yet there is hope, as Chelsea have looked far from their best during pre-season, recently falling to Arsenal in the Community Shield before also being dispatched by Fiorentina in the International Champions Cup. This means Swansea, one of the surprise stars of last season, are 9/1 to triumph in west London, or a more tempting 7/2 to snatch a draw.

Mourinho also faces poacher problems as doubts remain over dangerman Diego Costa’s fitness. The Portuguese coach would not be drawn on the former Atletico Madrid frontman’s chances of starting, telling press: “I don’t risk my reputation again. Before the last weekend I told you he’s ready to play. He wasn’t.”

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Should Costa be ready to head back in to the fray his presence could work wonders for the hosts, and he is 3/1 to strike the final blow if he makes an appearance, having hit five past the Swans last season.

Attacking alternatives Radamel Falcao and Loic Remy have looked lacklustre to say the least so far, and it may be best to plump for wing wizard Eden Hazard, who is available in a marvellous Coral match special, to shine instead. Back the brilliant Belgian to score and Chelsea to win at 9/4 (maximum stake £20).

Alternatively, Brazil international Oscar has a point to prove and a place to stake claim to, so punters can take a chance on the midfielder, who bagged a brace last time these two teams met, at a sensational 7/4 to grab a goal anytime.

The Swans also have their own striking woes, though adaptable Bosman signing Andre Ayew could help to shoulder the burden, and also features in match special at 6/1 to score anytime on his Premier League bow (max stake also £20).

Another new addition to the Welsh club’s roster is unconvincing Eder (7/2), born in Guinea-Bissau, so the Portugal forward should only play back-up to main marksman Bafetimbi Gomis, who is 9/1 to net first, though Chelsea have the talent to keep both at bay.

Betting tip: Hazard to score and Chelsea to win @ 9/4 (max stake £20)