Maurizio Sarri is set to recall a number of first-team regulars to the starting lineup, when Chelsea face Southampton at St. Mary’s on Sunday.
Chelsea will take a trip to the St. Mary’s Stadium on Sunday, as they gear up to take on a struggling Southampton side in gameweek eight of the Premier League.
Chelsea, sitting third in the standings, come into the game without a win in their last two Premier League encounters, having been held to consecutive draws by West Ham United and Liverpool. And, manager Maurizio Sarri will be hoping to carry the momentum from their 1-0 win over Vidi in the UEFA Europa League earlier this week and return to winning ways in the top-flight.
Apart from Marco van Ginkel, Chelsea have a full-strength squad available for their trip to the south coast, but changes are in the offing for Sunday’s game. Speaking after the win against Vidi, the Italian tactician hinted at major changes to the starting lineup during his pre-match press conference for the encounter against the Saints.
“This match we have changed eight players. In Greece I think only five, maybe, five or six. I hope we can do better than West Ham.”
One of the few players that started on Thursday and will be holding on to his place in the team will be goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga, who will be on the lookout for his fourth Premier League clean sheet of the season.
Wholesale changes are on the cards in the Chelsea backline though, with Cesar Azpilicueta, Antonio Rudiger, David Luiz and Marcos Alonso all set to be recalled, after being left out for the European tie.
On-loan Real Madrid midfielder Mateo Kovacic did not have the best of the matches against Vidi, but is likely to be retained in the middle of the park for the trip to St. Mary’s. However, there will be changes in the other two midfield spots, with summer signing Jorginho returning in place of Cesc Fabregas at the base, while N’Golo Kante will come in for Ruben Loftus-Cheek.
Eden Hazard made a brief appearance from the bench on Thursday night, and will be reinstated on the left-side of the attacking trident against the Saints. On the opposite flank, Brazilian international Willian should retain his spot in the side.
Alvaro Morata scored the only goal of the game against Vidi on Thursday, drawing praise from the manager. Speaking of the Spaniard after that game, Sarri said, “I’m really very happy for him. It’s very important for him to score, but I think it’s very important for him to play a good match. It’s very important for him to play for the team like he did this evening.”
“Alvaro can restart from this performance. He played very well, better than the last period. He has to take confidence from his performance. Sometimes you can score, sometimes not, but the performance is important. He’s a very important player for us.”
Despite impressing his manager in the midweek game, it is unlikely that the former Real Madrid man will feature from kick-off on Sunday. Instead, it will be Olivier Giroud, who has scored five goals in his last four matches against Southampton in all competitions, who will lead the line for Chelsea.