Chelsea will be looking for their first Premier League victory in over a month when they take on a Mark Hughes-led Southampton side at St.Mary’s on Saturday.
Antonio Conte’s men have been in an awful run of form, winning only two of their last eight Premier League games. The Blues are currently fifth on the table, ten points behind Tottenham Hotspur. With seven League games left, Chelsea have a very slim chance of making it into the top four.
They also have the FA Cup tie left to play for and they face Southampton again next week in the semi-finals. Speaking about Chelsea’s current status, Antonio Conte said in pre-match press conference that his side must do everything in their power to finish the season in the best possible way.
“We want to improve our position [on the table]. It’s difficult and we know that, but at the same time we have to give everything to get points and then to see what happens at the end of the season. It will be very difficult to reduce this gap, but we must try to do this until the end of the season.”
Conte revealed that Danny Drinkwater is out of contention for the match, with the Englishman said to be “struggling” with a problem in his groin. The Italian also hinted that Andreas Christensen would start this match on the bench, due to mental fatigue of playing so many games on the trot.
He then went onto add “At the same time, to have the possibility to play Gary Cahill is right. We are talking about an important player not only for Chelsea, but also for the national team,” suggesting that the Englishman could retain his place in the starting XI for this tie.
For this match, Thibaut Courtois is expected to start in goal, while Antonio Rudiger, Gary Cahill and Cesar Azpilicueta are likely to make up the back-three. Marcos Alonso is almost certain to start at left wing-back, but Davide Zappacosta may come in to replace Victor Moses on the right.
The indispensable N’Golo Kante will likely be joined by Cesc Fabregas in the center of midfield, with Eden Hazard and Willian starting on left and right side of Alvaro Morata, who is still expected to keep his place in the starting XI despite his past performances, which were decent at best.