Chelsea will be desperate to get back to winning ways when they welcome Southampton to Stamford Bridge on Saturday.

The dreaded international break is nearly upon us again, but before that, there is some important business to be attended to. In the Premier League, Gameweek 7 of the 2021/22 season will get underway on Saturday, with Chelsea playing hosts to Southampton at Stamford Bridge in one of the fixtures.

Chelsea started their 2021/22 campaign in strong fashion, looking imperious on both ends of the pitch, with defence, in particular, appearing to be impregnable. However, the good feeling around the Blues dissipated to a little effect in the past week, with Thomas Tuchel & co. suffering back-to-back 1-0 defeats, to Manchester City and Juventus, respectively.

Southampton, on the other hand, are one of five teams yet to get their first Premier League win of the 2021/22 season. The Saints, though, has impressed with their tenacity, holding Manchester City and Manchester United to draws. However, their profligacy in front of goal is a trait that could come to cost Ralph Hasenhuttl’s men in the long run.

The corresponding fixture last season saw Southampton come from two goals down to hold Chelsea to a 3-3 draw. Ahead of the latest meeting between the two sides, The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at the encounter.

Team News & Tactics

Chelsea

Thomas Tuchel has been handed a major boost on the team news front ahead of the visit of Southampton. On Saturday, the Chelsea manager will only be bereft of the services of three first-team players due to injuries or illness.

N’Golo Kante remains in self-isolation after testing positive for coronavirus. Apart from the French midfielder, Reece James and Christian Pulisic remain unavailable as they continue to recover from their respective ankle injuries. However, the positive bit of news comes in the form of Mason Mount’s return.

The English playmaker is available after shrugging off a knock, and his return will be key for the Blues. Mount ought to be reinstated in the starting lineup straightaway, and will look to set play up for Chelsea playing off of Romelu Lukaku. Timo Werner is likely to be the third man in the final third after being an unused substitute against Juventus.

As for the midfield unit, Ruben Loftus-Cheek could get a chance to impress after being a bright spot off the bench in the midweek fixture. Jorginho ought to be his partner in the middle of the park, with the Italian international looking to direct play for Chelsea.

Ben Chilwell is in line to make what is now a rare start on the left wing-back slot, following a poor performance by Marcos Alonso against Juventus. On the right flank, Cesar Azpilicueta will continue to deputise for James, with his position in the three-man central defensive unit being taken up by Thiago Silva, who will have Andreas Christensen and Antonio Rudiger for company.

Probable Lineup (3-4-2-1): Mendy; Christensen, Silva, Rudiger; Azpilicueta, Loftus-Cheek, Jorginho, Chilwell; Mount, Werner; Lukaku

Southampton

Like his counterpart in the Chelsea dugout, Ralph Hasenhuttl has greeted the return of a key star ahead of the trip to Stamford Bridge. On Saturday, the Southampton manager will have to make do without four first-team players.

Only two of those players are certain to miss out, with Stuart Armstrong sidelined with a calf injury while Armando Broja is ineligible to take on parent club Chelsea. As for the other two players, Will Smallbone and Jack Stephens are both facing a race against time to prove their fitness.

As for the team that will take the field against Chelsea, Southampton will line up in their usual 4-2-2-2 formation, with Alex McCarthy taking his place in goal. Jan Bednarek and Mohammed Salisu will form the central defensive partnership while Kyle Walker-Peters and former Chelsea academy ace Valentino Livramento being the two full-backs.

Up ahead in midfield, James Ward-Prowse will look to stifle the Chelsea moves along with Oriol Romeu, with the duo then hoping to recycle possession smartly. As for the attacking unit, Adam Armstrong and Che Adams will form the strike partnership while Nathan Redmond and Mohamed Elyounoussi will be the two wide attackers for Southampton.

Probable Lineup (4-2-2-2): McCarthy; Livramento, Bednarek, Salisu, Walker-Peters; Romeu, Ward-Prowse; Elyounoussi, Redmond; Adams, Adam Armstrong

Key Stats

  • Southampton have earned 19 Premier League points away to Chelsea – the only teams they have better records against on the road are Aston Villa and Crystal Palace, claiming 27 and 21 points, respectively.
  • Chelsea have not lost consecutive top-flight games at Stamford Bridge since December 2019, with the second fixture in that sequence a 2-0 defeat by Southampton on Boxing Day.
  • Southampton have lost 17 of 28 Premier League fixtures in 2021, more than any other side. Ralph Hasenhuttl’s side are winless in eight league matches, failing to score in five of those, including each of the last three.
  • Chelsea have lost four Premier League home matches in 2021 – they have not suffered five top-flight defeats at home in a calendar year since 1995.
  • Romelu Lukaku has nine top-flight goals against Southampton, the joint-highest figure of his career against any club.

Player to Watch

Timo Werner

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It is fair to say the Werner has not had a good time at Chelsea since arriving from RB Leipzig last year. A player who had a lot of expectations around him has since had a crisis of confidence owing to a lack of goal, with his woes only compounding since the arrival of Romelu Lukaku.

Now no longer a first-choice option, Werner is instead utilised as an attacking midfielder who plays off Lukaku. However, that means that with the competition for places being as intense as it is, there is little room for error for the German international. The game on Sunday will, therefore, give him a chance to make an impression and nail down a spot alongside Mason Mount.

Prediction

Chelsea 1-0 Southampton

The Chelsea juggernaut has suddenly come to a screeching halt following back-to-back listless performances. The Blues are now in danger of losing successive Premier League games for the first time under Thomas Tuchel, and Southampton will be licking their lips after getting something of a template to set up against the west Londoners.

However, there is a sense that the visitors have something of a soft underbelly that can be exploited, which is where the returning Mason Mount will come into play. On the opposite end, Southampton are unlikely to threaten much and with that in mind, The Hard Tackle predicts a 1-0 win for Chelsea, with Timo Werner making his mark in the game.

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