Premier League: Southampton a tough test for toiling Chelsea
Chelsea are odds-on 4/6 match favourites from Coral to defeat Southampton on home soil, but Stamford Bridge is no longer the fortress it was last season, nor the Blues the same belligerent winning machine.
History favours the capital club at home, though, as the Saints last won away in west London back in 2002, with six fruitless attempts since. Yet, the south coast side notably gave the Blues a real battle at the Bridge on their previous trip, forcing Jose Mourinho’s eventual Premier League champions to split the spoils.
Southampton have ended evenly with Chelsea three times from the past six tussles, including two draws last campaign, so are better value at 27/10 to repeat, or at 6/1 for a third 1-1 result in a row, rather than at 17/4 to triumph. To back up their pursuit of a point, Ronald Koeman’s men have lost just once on their travels this term.
One player who has impressed since recently returning from injury is former Blues left back Ryan Bertrand, who was swiftly re-called to the England squad and now prepares for his homecoming at Stamford Bridge.
Speaking of his defender’s national recognition, Koeman said: “If Ryan is back and playing on his level then he’s one of the national team. That’s good for the player, the confidence of the player and it’s good for Southampton.”
Also sharp for the Saints is goal machine Graziano Pelle, who has struck six across all competitions this season, including a bold brace against Manchester United. So, back the Italy international at 13/2 to hit the opener, or 15/8 to notch anytime.
Fellow in-form forward Sadio Mane, a previous scorer against Chelsea, is an 11/4 shout in the anytime market, having hit a fantastic three goals in his past two games.
Meanwhile, Mourinho is expected to re-shuffle following a midweek Champions League loss to Porto. Skipper John Terry is tipped to make the starting XI to shore up the rearguard, while Eden Hazard, on the bench for the Dragons duel, could also return to the fold.
Misfiring forwards Loic Remy and Radamel Falcao were omitted from the midweek matchday squad entirely, meaning it may be more prudent to take a punt on wideman Willian (10/3 to grab a goal anytime), to be on target for the second time in as many matches, or summer signing Pedro Rodriguez (7/4 in the same market)
Betting tip: Mane looks marvellous @ 11/4 to score again anytime