Saints looking for strong finish

Southampton host Chelsea this weekend and the Saints are fancied to cause their opponents problems. Ralph Hasenhuttl’s team’s form has dipped in recent weeks but Southampton have still proved troublesome opponents against some of the best sides in the Premier League this season.

Leaders Manchester City were held to two draws against Southampton this season and the Saints also won at Tottenham. A 1-1 draw at Leeds last weekend halted a run of three successive league defeats. England midfielder James Ward-Prowse produced another stunning free-kick to equalise, leaving Southampton 12th heading into this weekend’s games.

Chelsea stunned by Bees

Chelsea head into this weekend’s match with doubts surrounding them after back-to-back defeats. Thomas Tuchel’s side were humbled by local rivals Brentford last week after being thrashed 4-1 at Stamford Bridge. Chelsea should still finish third but Tottenham and Arsenal are only five points adrift.

A miserable week for Chelsea continued on Wednesday night after their 3-1 home defeat to Real Madrid.

Chelsea’s grip on the Champions League trophy appears to be over after Karim Benzema scored a superb hat-trick for the Spanish giants.

Tuchel will be concerned by his team’s defending over the last two games and will demand a reaction with their European hopes shattered by Real Madrid. It has been a chaotic few months for Chelsea following the sanctions placed on owner Roman Abramovich and perhaps the distractions are starting to impact their players.

Ralph Hasenhuttl 1280.jpg

Chelsea have been eased out to 1.991/1 for this weekend’s match and it is easy to see why the favourites are uneasy in the market. Their last two performances have been well below par and their defence has been badly exposed by both Brentford and Real Madrid. Of course, Chelsea may react strongly here but there are concerns about siding with the Blues.

Southampton can be backed at 4.216/5 and the hosts will fancy their chances of adding to Chelsea’s problems. The Saints’ form has dipped too though after a strong start to the year and the team have gone five games in all competitions without a victory.

The draw is around the 3.8514/5 mark and is arguably the most appealing option in this market. Southampton have drawn 12 league games this season and Chelsea have been held eight times. There are too many doubts surrounding the form of both teams though so preference is to go for goals.

Chelsea have leaked seven goals in their last two matches and Tuchel’s side could be exposed again this weekend.

Southampton will sense this is a big opportunity to punish Chelsea’s defence and the way in which Brentford and Real Madrid tore them apart was a real eye opener.

In their last 18 matches in all competitions, Southampton have only failed to score once.

The last four clashes between Southampton and Chelsea have all resulted in both teams scoring and there is a strong likelihood of this contest following suit. The Saints have failed to keep a clean sheet in their last five outings and a bet on both teams finding the net at 1.855/6 strongly appeals.

Opta Stat

Ward-Prowse scored his 13th direct free-kick goal in Southampton’s last game, with only David Beckham (18) scoring more in Premier League history.

Follow Simon’s bets on Twitter @watfordtipster

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