CHRIS Graham (@chrisgraham79) previews Tuesday night's clash between Chelsea and Southampton.
Chelsea v Southampton | Tuesday 19:45 | Sky Sports 1
Scan over the last 13 years in English football and you'll find many examples of the sheer cold-hearted brutal strength of Chelsea Football Club. Saturday gave us another example of that.
The Blues 4-2 win over Tottenham in Saturday's FA Cup Semi-Final was a masterclass from Antonio Conte. Very bravely he decided to park key men Eden Hazard and Diego Costa on the subs bench and leave it to the rest of his gang to do their bit.
Up against a vibrant, hungry, in-form Tottenham side it could have gone drastically wrong. But it didn't. The match was tightly poised before he brought on his pair of exiles to carry Chelsea through to a 4-2 win. What more evidence do you need with regard to who wins the title this season?
10 day break for Saints
Six games left and four points ahead, Chelsea now host mid-table Southampton in the midweek opener this Tuesday night. Dropping points feels unthinkable.
The only negative for Antonio Conte's men is that they were engaged in that high-energy semi-final late on Saturday while Southampton had their feet up.
Indeed, Southampton have had a 10 day break to prepare for this match. Enough to arouse the thought of them doing damage here? I'm not so sure.
Saints just haven't really impressed me this campaign. They've looked and feel a mid-table side. They did reach the EFL Cup Final but in the league they've failed to land a blow in a big game as their record against the Top 6 shows – P8 W0 D2 L6.
In previous seasons they've been a nightmare against the big sides and have hammered Arsenal and frustrated Chelsea. It's what we've come to expect, but not this season.
Cahill return a boost
I think the determination of Chelsea to win the league must be so strong that I can't see them slipping up. Their defeat against Crystal Palace at the start of the month was harsh as they dominated the game and stats, although the loss at Old Trafford was more of a concern.
The key in this game is whether Chelsea concede. It's now 10 consecutive games in the Premier League where they've leaked goals and two were shipped on Saturday in the FA Cup.
Gary Cahill is likely to come back into the line up after a bout of the shits and with Hazard and Costa back in the line up, the old order is being restored.
Only four sides have scored fewer goals than Southampton in the league this season and the chances of them extending Chelsea's poor defensive record has to be questioned here.
A glance at the prices though settles where to place my cash. A win to nil for Chelsea is 11/8 while Chelsea BTTS is around a point bigger at 12/5.
It's over three months since Chelsea win to nil has paid out, so I'll side with the stats and the bigger price and take the 12/5 on Tuesday.
Chelsea v Southampton – Chelsea to win and Both Teams To Score (12/5 Paddy Power)