The Premier League is back in full swing this weekend and after suffering a European nightmare in the week, Paul Robinson thinks that Chelsea will struggle to kick back into top gear.
Chelsea v Southampton
Sunday March 15, 13:30 GMT
Live on Sky Sports 1
It’s been a terrible week for Chelsea and even Jose Mourinho couldn’t offer up any excuses for his team’s performance on Wednesday night. They lacked any sense of urgency and cohesion, and most of all, they looked tired. Perhaps Mourinho’s policy of playing his best XI week in week out for most of the campaign is catching up with them, so it will be interesting to see who takes the field on Sunday lunchtime.
The season is far from a disaster for The Blues however as they already have the Capital One Cup in the trophy cabinet and have a five point advantage at the top of the Premier League, with a game in hand.
While the actual winning of the league is pretty much a forgone conclusion (you can lay them at 1.171/6 on the Exchange if you disagree with me), it will more likely be a stuttering finish than a blistering one.
Southampton have enjoyed a wonderful campaign and just when it appeared that they were running out of steam, they managed to pick up a much needed victory at home to Crystal Palace last time. Prior to that it was four defeats in six in all competitions and they now trail the top four by four points.
The problem for The Saints has been in front of goal and Sadio Mane’s 83rd minute winner against Palace was their first since his 90th minute winner at Loftus Road, just shy of six hours of football earlier. They fired blanks at home to West Ham and Liverpool, before doing the same at WBA.
Ronaldo Koeman’s defence are still standing strong though and with only 20 goals conceded this term, they have the best defensive record in the entire division. The Saints have conceded one or fewer in every single away fixture, apart from the opening weekend when Liverpool put two past them at Anfield.
Chelsea 1.635/8 Southampton 7.06/1 The Draw 3.953/1
It’s not often that you get 1.635/8 about Chelsea at Stamford Bridge when they aren’t playing one of their main rivals. They have drifted from a low of 1.42/5 since the PSG debacle, but I still can’t be tempted to wade in.
They had to play for two hours on Wednesday evening and they looked tired anyway. Southampton on the other hand have had 11 days rest and their away record this term reads; played 13, won seven, drawn one and lost five.
That being said, I’m not over enthused about opposing Chelsea at Stamford Bridge either, especially as Mourinho will no doubt demand a reaction from his side. I’m steering well clear of this market as there are much better opportunities to be had elsewhere.
Over/Under 2.5 Goals
Over 2.5 Goals 2.186/5 Under 2.5 Goals 1.824/5
This has to be the bet of the weekend for me as Under 2.5 goals at 1.824/5 is huge value. This match pits the two best defences in the Premier League against each other and nearly all of the stats are pointing towards a low-scoring affair.
Just concentrating on league games, Chelsea’s last six at the Bridge have all ended with two goals or less. They have kept nine clean sheets in 13 fixtures this year and they face a Saints attack who are struggling to score.
Since their first two away matches of the campaign rewarded Over 2.5 backers, Southampton have seen nine of their next 11 reward the Under 2.5 brigade. As mentioned, the goals have dried up, but the defence have remained firm, so Under 2.5 looks like an absolute steal at the prices.
I toyed with backing 0-0 here at 11.5n/a and as much as I tried to talk myself into it, the lingering memories of Jose Mourinho defying his critics time and time again put me off it.
I certainly wouldn’t be wanting to back Chelsea at odds-on, but I’m more than comfortable backing them to win 1-0 at 7.06/1 in the Correct Score market.
They beat Everton by the same scoreline in February and it’s what West Brom beat Southampton by in the visitors’ last away fixture.
Southampton are going to be a tough nut to crack and I think the game could stay goalless for quite a while. Chelsea will need to build up their confidence, while Koeman’s defence are well drilled and organised.
You can currently get 4.94/1 on Draw/Chelsea in the HT/FT market and I think there is a good chance that it will trade much shorter in running, offering the perfect cash out opportunity.
Back Under 2.5 Goals @ 1.824/5
Back Chelsea to win 1-0 @ 7.06/1
Best Cash Out
Back Draw/Chelsea in the HT/FT Market @ 4.94/1