Chelsea will aim to go into the international break by securing a top four spot when they travel to St. Mary’s Stadium to take on Southampton on Sunday.
Just one day remains before the second international break of the season begins. But, before that comes the Super Sunday in the Premier League, with four of the ‘Big Six’ sides in action. Chelsea will play in the lunch-time kick-off, when they travel to the south coast to face Southampton at St. Mary’s Stadium.
Southampton find themselves inching closer to the relegation zone after losing their last two games, leaving them with 7 points from as many games, just a point outside the relegation zone. The Saints, though, will argue that they deserved more from each of the results, particularly against Tottenham last weekend after playing much of the game with a numerical advantage.
Chelsea, on the other hand, seem to be finally starting to settle down under the tutelage of Frank Lampard. The Blues have now won three games in a row for the first time under their new manager, with the defeat by the slimmest of margins at the hands of Liverpool two weeks ago being a rather unfortunate result.
The corresponding fixture last season ended in a comfortable 3-0 win for Chelsea, with Eden Hazard, Ross Barkley and Alvaro Morata on target. Ahead of the latest meeting between the two sides, The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at the Premier League encounter.
Team News & Tactics
Ralph Hasenhuttl does not have many injury concerns to deal with ahead of the visit of Chelsea. On Sunday, the Southampton boss will be without the services of just Cedric Soares (calf) and Moussa Djenepo (thigh), with neither player’s absence causing much of a worry.
Hasenhuttl should continue to line his side up in a 3-4-1-2 formation that made his side look much more fluid. Oddly enough, however, the system will see James Ward-Prowse being deployed as a right wing-back, with the Englishman’s deliveries posing a major threat.
On the opposite flank, former Chelsea star Ryan Bertrand will provide a similar sort of an outlet, with a midfield double pivot giving cover to the back-three. Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg and Oriol Romeu will form this partnership in the middle of the park, with Jannik Vestergaard, Jan Bednarek and Maya Yoshida forging the three-man central defensive unit.
Sofiane Boufal, though, could make way for Nathan Redmond, who should drop into the no. 10 role and create the bulk of the threading passes for Southampton. Danny Ings will once again lead the line for the Saints, with the returning Che Adams providing him company in the strike partnership.
Probable Lineup (3-4-1-2): Gunn; Bednarek, Vestergaard, Yoshida; Ward-Prowse, Hojbjerg, Romeu, Bertrand; Redmond; Adams, Ings
Frank Lampard does not have many injury concerns to deal with ahead of the trip to Southampton. The absence of Emerson Palmieri due to a thigh injury remains the only pressing issue for the Chelsea boss, who will also be without Antonio Rudiger (groin) and Ruben Loftus-Cheek (Achilles).
Lampard, though, is sweating over the fitness of N’Golo Kante, who has been bothered by a number of irksome niggles in the first couple of months of the season. The manager is unlikely to take a chance with the Frenchman, especially with Mateo Kovacic and Jorginho impressing a great deal early in the season.
Kovacic and Jorginho will form a midfield double pivot that should signal a return to the 4-2-3-1 formation, which ought to bring the best out of Mason Mount. Mount is likely to be deployed in his favoured no. 10 role, playing off the central striker, Tammy Abraham.
Abraham is likely to be supported by Willian and Pedro from the two flanks, although Callum Hudson-Odoi has worked his way back into contention after providing two assists in as many games for Chelsea. While the in-form Willian picks himself at the moment, Pedro should start ahead of Hudson-Odoi, whose easing in period continues.
At the back, Fikayo Tomori, who was impressive yet again in the midweek UEFA Champions League fixture at Lille, is a certain starter. Kurt Zouma was much improved last time around, but should make way for Andreas Christensen, with the resurgent Cesar Azpilicueta and Marcos Alonso being the two full-backs. Kepa Arrizabalaga will take his place in the Chelsea goal.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Kepa; Azpilicueta, Christensen, Tomori, Alonso; Kovacic, Jorginho; Willian, Mount, Pedro; Abraham
1. Both Teams to Score – YES @ 1.66
1. Full Time Result – Draw @ 3.80
- Southampton have been victorious in only two of their last 20 Premier League meetings with Chelsea (D6 L12) and are winless in the last seven.
- Chelsea are hoping to win a third successive away game in the Premier League for the first time since December 2018.
- Southampton have won just two of their last 12 Premier League games (D4 L6). Both of those victories have come on the road, and they have just one point at home this season.
- Chelsea have conceded 27 goals away from home in the Premier League in 2019. Only Watford, with 33, have let in more.
- Southampton could lose three consecutive Premier League fixtures for the first time since October 2018, when they were managed by Mark Hughes. The third defeat of that run was 3-0 at home against Chelsea.
Player to Watch
After a stunning start to the season, Tammy Abraham has gone off the boil a bit in the last couple of weeks. The Englishman disappointed with his finishing against Liverpool, and even though he found the back of the net at Lille, he showed a tendency to drift out of the game in the fixture, as he did when Valencia paid Chelsea a visit last month as well.
With a stuttering Southampton side being Chelsea’s next opponents, Abraham has a great chance to get back to his best. A couple of goals would even send him into the lead in the race to win the Golden Boot this season, a prospect that ought to excite the young striker. A key game ahead of the international break.
Southampton 1-2 Chelsea
This is a game that promises goals. Chelsea still have not completely sorted their defensive issues out, despite keeping their first clean sheet under Frank Lampard last weekend. Southampton, on the other hand, have scored in each of their last 17 Premier League home games.
The Saints, however, have struggled to put teams under pressure at St. Mary’s this season, having managed just a solitary point at home so far. And, the dismal record is set to become even worse against a Chelsea side that cannot seem to stop scoring.
Expect Tammy Abraham and Mason Mount to make a splash following the return of the 4-2-3-1. But, the game might go right down the wire, especially with Southampton being tricky customers in spite of their woeful home record. The Hard Tackle predicts a 2-1 win for Chelsea, possibly taking them to the top four.