Jorginho and Christian Pulisic are in line to start while Cesar Azpilicueta is a doubt for Chelsea’s Premier League tie against Southampton.
Chelsea will be looking to build on their stunning win over Tottenham this past weekend when they play hosts to Southampton at Stamford Bridge on Thursday afternoon. And, Frank Lampard has fresh roster issues to contend with ahead of his side’s Boxing Day contest.
Ceaar Azpilicueta sustained a hamstring injury late into Chelsea 2-0 win over Tottenham last week and the Chelsea captain is a doubt heading into the contest against Southampton. Lampard provided an update on Azpilicueta during his pre-match press conference.
“Azpilicueta had a small issue at the end of the game, hence he came off when he never comes off. We need to check that one this morning. Other than that, we’re pretty much where we are, but there were some bumps and bruises so there’s nothing clear. We’ll see.”
With games coming thick and fast in the festive period, Lampard could opt to rest Azpilicueta even if he was fit, so as to not risk worsening his situation. The Chelsea captain should make way for Reece James, who is likely to reprise the right-back role. Indeed, Lampard could revert to the 4-2-3-1 formation, although he was quizzed about the prospect of continuing with the 3-4-3.
“We’ve played it a few times, and we’ve gone to it in games. It can work. The reason we played it against Tottenham was because we had a good look at Tottenham and how they play, and I thought it was the best way for us to play. We worked in training a lot last week, and it did work. It’s certainly something we can use and we can see how we go going forward.”
The change in formation could see Antonio Rudiger drop down to the bench, with the German playing every game since returning from injury. Rudiger’s absence means Kurt Zouma and Fikayo Tomori will partner up at the heart of the Chelsea defence. The left-back slot should see Emerson Palmieri returning, replacing Marcos Alonso.
Up ahead in midfield, Mateo Kovacic is set to miss out due to a one-match ban, incurred after picking up his fifth yellow card of the season last time out against Tottenham. Kovacic ought to be replaced by Jorginho, who is likely to don the armband for Chelsea on Thursday, with N’Golo Kante being his partner in the midfield double pivot.
Mason Mount, who was in fine touch at Tottenham, will reprise the no. 10 role, with match winner Willian starting on the right side of the Chelsea attack. Christian Pulisic is expected to start on the left flank, with Tammy Abraham leading the line against Southampton.
Predicted Chelsea XI: Kepa; James, Zouma, Tomori, Emerson; Kante, Jorginho; Willian, Mount, Pulisic; Abraham