Chelsea will look to get back to winning ways in the Premier League when they take on a Mark Hughes led Southampton side who are fighting for survival.
The Blues are currently fifth on the Premier League table, 10 points behind fourth placed Tottenham Hotspur. It would take a miracle for them to be able to qualify for the Champions League and at this point in the season, have only the FA Cup to play for.
They are coming off a 1-1 draw against West Ham at the London Stadium and haven’t won a Premier League game in over a month. Southampton on the other hand, are fighting for survival. They are 18th on the table with 28 points to their name, 3 points behind Crystal Palace, who have played a game extra.
In their first meeting this season, Chelsea just managed to scrap all three points thanks to a first half Marcos Alonso free-kick. These two sides will face each other once again at Wembley, in the semi-finals of the FA Cup to be held on the 22nd of April.
Tactics & Teams News
Mark Hughes will miss out on the services of the injured Steven Davis and the suspended Jack Stephens. The Welshman is expected to use a 4-2-3-1 formation for this match, with only 2 changes being made to the starting XI that lost to Arsenal last week.
Alex McCarthy is almost certain to retain his place in goal and the Saints are expected to set up with a traditional four man defence. Ryan Bertrand and Cedric Soares are expected to be deployed as fullbacks, while Wesley Hoedt and Maya Yoshida will likely start at centerback.
Oriol Romeu and Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg are expected to start in a midfield pivot, while Nathan Redmond is expected to come back into the starting XI on the left wing. James Ward-Prowse is expected to start in a central role, with Dusan Tadic setting up shop on the right flank and the club’s top scorer Charlie Austin leading the line for the Saints.
Probable Starting XI(4-2-3-1): Alex McCarthy; Cedric Soares, Maya Yoshida, Wesley Hoedt, Ryan Bertrand; Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg, Oriol Romeu; Dusan Tadic, James Ward-Prowse, Nathan Redmond; Charlie Austin
The Blues only have Danny Drinkwater sidelined due to injury. Conte is expected to deploy the exact same side that started in their 1-1 draw against West Ham United, i.e, their strongest possible starting XI. With Arsenal only 3 points away, the Blues cannot afford to be anything other than their very best on the night.
Thibaut Courtois will likely start in goal, with Antonio Rudiger, Gary Cahill and Cesar Azpilicueta retaining their places in defence. Andreas Christensen isn’t expected to start, after he was left out of the starting XI of last week’s match and Gary Cahill put in a good shift.
Marcos Alonso and Victor Moses are expected to start as left and right wingback respectively, with N’golo Kante and Cesc Fabregas setting up shop in midfield. Eden Hazard and Willian are once again expected to start on either side of Alvaro Morata, who will likely be leading the line for the Blues.
Probable Starting XI(3-4-3): Thibaut Courtois; Cesar Azpilicueta, Gary Cahill, Antonio Rudiger; Victor Moses, Cesc Fabregas, N’golo Kante, Marcos Alonso; Willian, Alvaro Morata, Eden Hazard
- Southampton have conceded a minimum of 3 goals in each of their last 3 Premier League matches.
- Chelsea have won their last 4 matches against Southampton in all competitions.
- Chelsea have lost their last 3 Premier League away games.
- In 56 games against Chelsea in all competitions, Southampton have won 15, drawn 14 and lost 27 matches against the Blues.
- Southampton have won only 8 of their 28 home matches against Chelsea across all competitions, losing 14 and drawing 6.
Player To Watch
The Englishman put in a good shift from the bench in his last outing against Arsenal and found the net for his side, making the score 2-2 only a minute after coming on. That was only his second appearance after returning from injury and his 7th goal this season. He will be Southampton’s biggest attacking threat and he will certainly be one to keep an eye on.
1. Over 2.5 Match Goals @ 2.00
2. Both Teams to Score – YES @ 1.90
1. Southampton to win @ 4.50
Southampton 1-2 Chelsea
The Blues have been in woeful form of late, winning only 2 of their last League 8 matches and are in desperate need of a victory. Southampton on the other hand, are battling for their lives and a win or a draw tonight would help tremendously in their fight for survival.
So this match is going to be anything but a mellow affair. While Southampton will have more motivation, Chelsea just have a far better team on paper and we expect them to emerge triumphant tonight. However, the Saint’s won’t make it easy on them and we predict a hard fought, narrow victory for Antonio Conte’s men.