Jose Mourinho could have been forgiven for hoping that his side had found their form after wins over Maccabi Tel Aviv, Arsenal and Walsall, only for Chelsea to struggle to draw with bottom-placed Newcastle and to lose away at Porto this week.
The trip to his old club Porto saw Mourinho prefer to put untried youngsters on the bench alongside the dropped Eden Hazard and Nemanja Matic……
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…..while the likes of Radamel Falcao, Oscar and Loic Remy did not even travel to Portugal.
John Terry was also an unused substitute, as he has been for the last five games. The fans are not happy at the captain’s omission at a time when Chelsea are struggling for clean sheets and Branislav Ivanovic has kept his place despite playing terribly all season.
If Mourinho has many things to worry about, at least injuries are not one of them. Thibaut Courtois is the only casualty, though Diego Costa will serve the second match of his three game ban. Mourinho’s biggest dilemma may be whether to go with Remy – who started against Newcastle – or Falcao – who came on as a substitute for the Frenchman.
After a slightly shaky start, Southampton can be pleased at how their season has progressed. They started their campaign with three Premier League games without a win and an early exit from the Europa League, but since beating Norwich in late August they have only lost once and that was to the league leaders Manchester United.
The goals have been flowing in recent weeks as Ronald Koeman has enjoyed the full array of his attacking talents to call from, with Shane Long, Sadio Mane, Graziano Pelle, Jay Rodriguez and Dusan Tadic all featuring among the scorers.
Koeman is another manager with few injuries to trouble him. Like Mourinho, his goalkeeper Fraser Forster is a long-term absentee, with the only other injured player being the central defender Florin Gardos.
Chelsea are the 1.82 favourites, with the draw at 3.80 and Southampton at 5.20. This is a big price for the champions at Stamford Bridge and reflects both their poor form and the lack of a striker able to deputise for Diego Costa effectively.
With it being difficult to predict how Chelsea will play it may be better to consider Southampton’s away form. Their successful campaign last season was built more on their results at St Mary’s, but they are unbeaten away from home this term, having drawn all three games.
With the Saints having drawn both home and away with Chelsea last season when Mourinho’s side were flying, the price of the draw appeals.
Over/Under 2.5 Goals
Both of those draws last season finished 1-1 but looking at how both sides are playing, it’s over 2.5 goals at 1.99 that’s more attractive than unders at 1.97.
Southampton have scored 14 goals in their last five games, while Chelsea have conceded in each of their last three matches – even against Walsall while fielding a defence full of internationals. Both teams to score, is another bet worth considering at 1.87.
With such uncertainty over who will start up front for Chelsea it’s better to look further back. Willian has scored in the last two games and looks big at a likely 5.00 to find the net. Mane should also be available at 5.00 for Southampton, despite having scored three goals in his last two appearances.
2pts Back over 2.5 goals at 1.99
1pts Back Mane to score at 5.00
Southampton have scored 14 goals in their last five games, while Chelsea have conceded in each of their last three matches.