A second successive trip to London awaits Southampton as they face a Chelsea side who are on the back of a second defeat to Basel in their midweek Champions League clash.
Chelsea have yet to hit top form on a consistent basis and find themselves in tricky period. Fortunately for them, their title rivals are having troubles too and the experience in the side is helping to get the results despite not performing to the best of their abilities. A run of 3 wins in 5 matches in all competitions during November is proof of this.
Southampton have been this season’s surprise package sitting in 5th place and have the best defence in the league with only 7 goals conceded. Despite this though, Pochettino will be disappointed with the number of goals they have conceded being preventable, with Boruc’s mistake against Arsenal the most recent.
After a slow start of the season, Hazard is starting to get into the form that he wowed Chelsea fans with last year and secure a position in Mourinho’s first XI.
The fast and direct style of play Hazard offers Chelsea a threat from out wide and something different from playmakers Mata and Willian. The 27 chances created by Hazard is the joint 2nd best in the league, only bested by Gerrard’s 32, and the most created from open play. 4 goals and 2 assists in his last 6 Premier League games has helped to add spark to a subdued Chelsea and a repeat would be needed against defensively brilliant Southampton.
A defensive midfielder is also important for a trip to one of the ‘big clubs’ and last weekend’s trip to Arsenal saw Wanyama produce his best performance of the season. 9 tackles with 100% success rate and 12 ground duels wasn’t enough to get Southampton a result, but only Nathaniel Clyne’s record of 11 tackles against Liverpool beats Wanyama’s. A similar defensive performance this weekend could help Southampton to return from London with a point or 3 this time around.
- Hazard’s last minute equaliser against West Brom a couple of weeks ago saved Mourinho’s unbeaten league run at Stamford Bridge, which now stands at 66 matches.
- Chelsea have an identical Premier League record this season to the one they had last time out in the opening 12 games under Roberto Di Matteo (W7 D3 L2), who was sacked at this stage. (via FourFourTwo)
- After Tottenham’s large defeat last week, Southampton are the only team not to have conceded double figures in the Premier League.
- Southampton have lost 4 out of their last 6 away games against top-6 sides.
Samuel Eto’o is out after suffering a hamstring injury against Basel in mid-week and the match comes too soon for David Luiz who has returned to training after a knee injury.
Southampton have Jack Cork back from injury, while Gaston Ramirez is available again after missing last week’s trip to Arsenal due to a late return from international duty.
This game will rely on the type of Chelsea turn up. Last weekend’s performance against West Ham was impressive, but was followed by a second defeat to Basel in this season’s Champions League and no shots on target by Chelsea. With this in mind, and Southampton’s good performances so far, Mourinho may take a more conservative approach to the match. Expect this to a classic grind-out-the-result type performance by a Mourinho side and not a classic most will be hoping for.
Chelsea 1 Southampton 0