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v/s

Southampton

Stamford Bridge, London

Saturday 3rd October 2015, 1730 GMT

Chelsea FC host Southampton at Stamford Bridge on Saturday, hoping to get back to winning ways in the Premier League after a spirited fightback against Newcastle United in their last league outing.

 

Blues’ boss Jos Mourinho has never made a worse start to a league campaign in his managerial career, with his Chelsea FC side sitting 14th in the league with just 8 points from their opening 7 games. However, the visit of Ronald Koeman’s Southampton side on Saturday presents another opportunity for the Londoners to get their stuttering season back on track.

Southampton have not had the best of starts to their new campaign either, and their away form in particular is worrisome. Ronald Koeman will be hoping his team can prey on the lack of confidence in the Chelsea FC side and get a positive result from what should be a very intriguing battle.

Team News and Tactics

Chelsea FC

Diego Costa will be unavailable for selection for the third and final time due to the retrospective ban imposed on him by the English FA, while Belgian keeper Thibaut Courtois remains a long-term absentee. There are no other serious injury issues for Mourinho’s men, although it will be interesting to see if the Portuguese restores some of his regulars to the starting lineup.

Brazilian midfielder Oscar and Frenchman LoA?c R my were among those who were left behind in England when the Chelsea FC squad flew to Portugal to face FC Porto. However, both should return to the matchday squad for the Saints’ visit in the late kick-off on Saturday.

Mourinho could continue with a 4-3-3 formation, with Brazilian midfielder Ramires alongside Serbian Nemanja Mati , and Spaniard Cesc F bregas playing in a more advanced midfield role. However, the Portuguese will remember his side’s performance in their last home game against Arsenal FC, when he used a 4-2-3-1 formation with Oscar at no. 10 flanked by Eden Hazard and Pedro, with Mati and F bregas in the double-pivot.

The team looked more compact and organised as a whole, and for the first time in a while, looked solid defensively. Mourinho might be tempted to go for a similar formation, potentially with in-form Willian in the no. 10 role instead of compatriot Oscar.

John Terry could return to the starting lineup given Ronald Koeman will play a target-man in Graziano PellA? up front, and as such, the Chelsea FC captain would not directly be up against a particularly fast striker.

Mourinho has to pick between R my and Radamel Falcao on Saturday, and if he opts to go with the Colombian, the attacking midfield will have to play higher up to support the 29-year-old. Given he is at his best in the six-yard box, the likes of Hazard, Willian and Pedro will be looking to put crosses into the box as often as possible.

Possible starting XI: Begovi ; Ivanovi , Zouma, Terry, Azpilicueta; Mati , Fabregas; Pedro, Willian, Hazard; Falcao

Southampton FC

Ronald Koeman will still be without Steven Caulker, Fraser Forster and Florin GardoE , but Dutch midfielder Jordy Claise could return to the squad for the visit to Stamford Bridge. Southampton could potentially field two former Chelsea FC players in their starting line-up in left-back Ryan Bertrand and midfielder Oriol Romeu, both of whom joined the Saints this year.

Koeman has usually opted for a 4-2-3-1 formation this season with Victor Wanyama and James Ward-Prowse sitting behind the likes of DuA?an Tadi , Steven Davis and Sadio Man . Although he might be bold enough to continue in the same vein against Mourinho and Chelsea FC, it is possible he will use another defensive midfielder alongside Wanyama — possibly Romeu.

Ward-Prowse would then play in a more advanced midfield position, with Steven Davis relegated to a place on the bench, as was the case against Manchester United earlier in the season. Ward-Prowse could prove to be a major weapon for the Saints on Saturday with his set-piece deliveries, given the Blues have now conceded from corners in consecutive games over the past week.

Tadi and Man will likely interchange positions often, and the Senegalese footballer will do his best to isolate himself against out-of-form Chelsea FC right-back Branislav Ivanovi on the Saints’ left flank. Mourinho’s men lost the midfield battle in their game against Newcastle, and Koeman will look to exploit those flaws in the centre of the park once again this weekend.

F bregas in particular struggled in the first half due to the Magpies’ high-intensity pressing, and as such, the Blues were never quite able to get a foothold in the game or gain any sort of momentum. Koeman could use the likes of Ward-Prowse to close down the former Arsenal FC captain to try and gain an upper hand in midfield.

Possible starting XI: Stekelenburg; C dric, Fonte, Van Dijk, Bertrand; Romeu, Wanyama; Tadi , Ward-Prowse, Man ; PellA?

Key Facts

  • Chelsea FC have had over 50% possession in each of their Premier League games so far this season.
  • The Blues have conceded five goals from headers this season, more than any other team in the Premier League.
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  • Southampton have not won any of their last ten Premier League fixtures, drawing 4 and losing 6.
  • Jos Mourinho has never lost a Premier League match against Southampton, winning 4 and drawing 2.
  • Southampton have allowed their opposition the fewest shots on target this season in the league (17), while their hosts on Saturday have allowed the most (45).

Player to watch

Willian

FC Porto vs FC Chelsea

The Brazilian midfielder was one of the Blues’ better performers against FC Porto, scoring a stunning free-kick on the stroke of half-time to bring Chelsea FC back on level terms. Willian has seen his position on the right wing usurped by new signing Pedro, but with Oscar’s uncertain form, it is likely that he will find himself playing centrally for Mourinho a fair few times this season.

The introduction of the Brazilian in the second-half against Newcastle also helped Chelsea FC earn a point from 2-0 down, and his incessant running and harrying of the opposition is something the Blues could use in midfield in their current predicament. Willian is on a rare goalscoring run and will look to continue it against Southampton on Saturday, making him the player to watch.

Prediction

Chelsea FC 2 – 1 Southampton

The Blues will want to get a positive result before another international break, and home comforts could help when they take on Southampton this weekend. Although Mourinho’s men have not been in good form, their stretch of fixtures now looks fairly positive on paper, and the Portuguese will be stressing the importance of putting together a run of wins. A home win is on the cards in the late kick-off on Saturday.

Blast from the past