Southampton vs Chelsea
Venue: St Mary’s Stadium
TV: Sky Sports Main Event
Referee: Craig Pawson
Chelsea will look to maintain their unbeaten Premier League record against a Southampton side coming off the back of three losses and hovering dangerously close to the relegation zone. Will the Saints bounce back against the Blues or will a rejuvenated Chelsea clinch their sixth league win of the season?
Maurizio Sarri’s side were lucky to hold on last week against a fantastic Liverpool team, but nevertheless they remain unbeaten and are only two points off the top of the table. Eden Hazard was in sparkling form again last week and if Southampton continue with their defensive frailties, then this weekend could be a cricket score.
Southampton, however, are without a win in the last three games. They are on the back of two defeats, one to Wolves and one to Liverpool, both of which are tough games but there is no denying that their confidence will be dented. Without a goal in their last two, this weekend may prove to be another defeat for the Saints.
Scoring goals has been an issue for Southampton this year with only six in the first seven games of the season. While Chelsea’s defence hasn’t been notably strong, they have only conceded three, the second best in the league. I can foresee this being a tough day at the office for Southampton, if they can’t get past Chelsea, they better hope they can keep them out.
Chelsea have been relatively injury free so far this season and for this week it is only Christensen, Loftus-Cheek, and Pedro that are doubts but even they are around 75% fit. Fabregas is back fit and firing though it remains to be seen if he can force his way back into the starting XI.
It is the Chelsea midfield that is bossing games for them at the moment. The trio of Kante, Jorginho and Kovacic is doing wonders but that casts doubts over Loftus-Cheek & Barkley, from an English perspective. While they may be rotated in and out of the team for cup games, its not what they will want for their own careers.
The striker issue is another one for the Blues. Morata has not looked at the races all season and Giroud hasn’t been much better either. If Hazard comes into that central area, then things may get easier but with him excelling in his current role I can’t see Sarri wanting to move his star player. It may be a case of splashing out in January.
For the Saints they have just the one confirmed injury which is Sam McQueen but Shane Long is a large doubt for the game against Chelsea.
Southampton need to sort themselves out now. Austin and Ings are very good strikers but with a team return of six goals in seven games, it isn’t coming through currently. There is pace on the wings with Redmond & Elyounoussi and some strong players in the midfield with Hojbjerg and Lemina, so it isn’t the quality that’s the issue, it must be the system.
Southampton need to sort their form out quickly as they can’t risk a run of bad form going into the Winter.
Predicted Starting XI’s
Southampton: McCarthy; Cedric, Vestergaard, Hoedt, Bertrand; Elyounoussi, Hojberg, Lemina, Redmond; Austin, Ings.
Chelsea: Kepa; Azpilicueta, Rudiger, Luiz, Alonso; Jorginho, Kante, Kovacic; Hazard, Giroud, Willian.
Prediction: Southampton 0 Chelsea 3
I just can’t see Southampton getting anything out of this. Chelsea were lucky last week against Liverpool but this is not Liverpool; Chelsea’s attacking ability should be more than enough to comfortably see them through.