Chelsea will be aiming to continue on their winning ways under manager Thomas Tuchel when they lock horns with Southampton this weekend in the Premier League.
Matchday 25 of the 2020/21 Premier League gets underway this week and top-four hopefuls Chelsea will be in action on Saturday afternoon when they travel south to take on Southampton at St. Mary’s.
Southampton, after a promising start to the campaign, have just faded off in recent weeks. Indeed, Ralph Hasenhuttl’s men have lost each of their last six Premier League matches, with the latest one ending in a 2-1 defeat to Wolves, which has left them in the 13th place in the table, just four points above Newcastle United in 17th.
Chelsea, meanwhile, have gone on a completely opposite trajectory to that of their weekend opponents since Thomas Tuchel took over last month. Indeed, the Blues have risen from ninth to fourth in the table on the back of a five-game unbeaten run in the league under the German, most recently beating Newcastle United 2-0.
The reverse fixture, played at Stamford Bridge last October, was an entertaining encounter that ended in a 3-3 draw courtesy of an injury-time equaliser from Jannik Vestergaard. And ahead of their latest meeting on Saturday afternoon, The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at both the teams.
Team News & Tactics
Ralph Hasenhuttl continues to be plagued with injury issues as Will Smallbone, Michael Obafemi, Theo Walcott and Ibrahima Diallo are all ruled out while Kyle Walker-Peters has succumbed to another hamstring issue and misses out as well. Alex Jankewitz is back after serving out his three-game suspension.
Southampton will line up in a 4-4-2 formation in front of goalkeeper Alex McCarthy, with Jan Bednarek and Jannik Vestergaard forming the centre-back partnership. With Walker-Peters out, Jack Stephens is likely to step in at right-back, where he will need to be watchful of the Chelsea wing-back. Ryan Bertrand ought to continue at left-back.
Former Chelsea man Oriol Romeu will anchor the midfield and look to keep a lid on the creative output of Mason Mount, with support coming from Southampton skipper James Ward-Prowse, who will look to make the most of any potential set-pieces that his team win in the attacking third.
Stuart Armstrong ought to get the nod on the right flank, although he is likely to move in centrally in order to create overloads through the middle. January signing Takumi Minamino ought to line up on the left-wing for Southampton and will look to make the most of any spaces left in behind the Blues’ attack-minded wing-back in Callum Hudson-Odoi.
Up top, there is no looking past the strike partnership of Danny Ings and Che Adams, although the duo will have their task cut out against a Chelsea defensive unit that has looked solid in recent weeks.
Probable Lineup (4-4-2): McCarthy; Stephens, Bednarek, Vestergaard, Bertrand; Armstrong, Ward-Prowse, Romeu, Minamino; Adams, Ings
Striker Tammy Abraham picked up an ankle injury in the win against Newcastle United on Monday night but is expected to be available. Both Kai Havertz and Thiago Silva are back in training but the latter is set to miss out while Christian Pulisic is also a doubt. Thomas Tuchel will have an eye on the big game against Atletico Madrid next week while selecting his team.
— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) February 18, 2021
Kepa Arrizabalaga was a surprise starter in goal against Newcastle but is expected to make way for Edouard Mendy on Saturday. There are unlikely to be any changes to the three-man backline though, with Cesar Azpilicueta likely to continue alongside Andreas Christensen and Antonio Rudiger, although Kurt Zouma could be an option the manager considers.
Callum Hudson-Odoi and Marcos Alonso have firmly established themselves as the preferred options in the wing-back slots and should continue on Saturday, providing width in the attacking half.
Jorginho has been one of Chelsea’s better players ever since Tuchel took over and is a certain starter in central midfield, from where he will look to control the tempo of the game. Partnering him should be Mateo Kovacic, who will be tasked with driving forward with the ball and creating chances for his teammates.
Mason Mount should continue in a free role in the attacking third, where he will have the liberty to drift across the pitch in a bid to carve out openings. Timo Werner will likely stick to the inside left-channel and look to attack the goal from that position while Olivier Giroud will be the target man at the top.
Probable Lineup (3-4-2-1): Mendy; Azpilicueta, Christensen, Rudiger; Hudson-Odoi, Kovacic, Jorginho, Alonso; Alonso, Werner; Giroud
1. Chelsea to win @ 1.70
1. Chelsea to WIN to NIL @ 2.87
- Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel has come across Southampton boss Ralph Hasenhuttl four times in his career, winning three of those contests (L1).
- Southampton have conceded two or more goals in five of their last six Premier League matches.
- Chelsea, meanwhile, have kept a clean sheet in five of their last seven outings in the English top-flight.
- Southampton have lost their last five home matches in the Premier League against Chelsea, their longest such run against an opponent in their league history.
- Chelsea have won both of their away Premier League games under Thomas Tuchel – the last Chelsea manager to win his first three away games in the competition was Carlo Ancelotti in 2009.
Player to Watch
Timo Werner’s 2020/21 season compared to other PL attackers:
Werner – 19 G/A
Vardy – 19 G/A
Mané – 16 G/A
Martial – 15 G/A
Firmino – 13 G/A
Aubameyang – 12 G/A
His best is yet to come, but his season so far has been better than a lot of people realise. pic.twitter.com/g5CiPhw3pe
— LDN (@LDNFootbalI) February 17, 2021
It hasn’t been smooth sailing for Werner since he made the switch to Chelsea last summer from RB Leipzig. Having gone through a torrid 15-game goal drought, the German international returned to scoring ways earlier this week, when he found the back of the net against Newcastle.
Despite all his struggles, the 24-year-old has been directly involved in ten Premier League goals this season (five goals, five assists) – more than any other player at the club. In addition, he has also had a hand in 73 shots for the Blues (52 shots taken, 21 chances created).
And, having now found his goal-scoring touch back in the last game, Werner will be raring to go and add to his tally. He can draw confidence from the fact that he has already gotten the better of the Saints’ defence once this term, having scored a double in the reverse fixture.
Southampton 0-2 Chelsea
Southampton are in a bit of a rut heading into the game, having lost each of their last six league outings, a run which has seen them concede 20 goals. On the other hand, Chelsea are putting together a solid run of results, with new manager Thomas Tuchel’s methods already reaping rewards.
Indeed, the Blues have kept a clean sheet in five of the six matches under the former PSG manager and should extend that run against a Saints’ side that is seemingly low on confidence. The Hard Tackle predicts another straightforward 2-0 win for the Blues on Saturday afternoon.