As the games are coming thick and fast, the Champions are all set to entertain an unsettled Southamption side at t he Stamford Bridge on Saturday.
Chelsea are probably the best inconsistent team in the Premier League this season. On the surface, their campaign is not a disaster by any means. The Blues are only 3 points off second in the league – wining 11 out of 17 games – losing 4, but the inability to hit the heights they did – underpinned a remarkably consistent run of performances backed up by results – particularly this time last season, has somewhat weighed down on Antonio Conte.
Following a narrow yet ultimately disappointing defeat to rivals West Ham United, the Champions bounced back with a fine victory against Huddersfield Town but it’s time they went on a streak now in the next few weeks, if they were to climb up that table any further.
11th placed Southampton have been massively uninspiring themselves – winning only 4 games so far – same as Newcastle United who are 16th in the league. The Saints will make the short trip to West London on the back of a demoralising defeat against former Southampton manager Claude Puel’s Leicester City at home.
Having failed to win once in the last five games on the road, Pellegrino’s side face an uphill task on Saturday at the home of the defending Champions although the manager is hoping that they could repeat their performance against another top six side in Arsenal on Saturday. He said,
“Three days before [against Arsenal] we showed a completely different face, and Chelsea is a difficult side but we want to bounce back.”
David Luiz again misses out for Chelsea, with the Brazilian still struggling with a knee problem. Alvaro Morata will be assessed by Antonio Conte closer to kick off.
Southampton have a full squad to choose from ahead of their visit to Chelsea.
Chelsea starting XI: Courtois; Azpilicueta, Christensen, Cahill; Zappacosta, Fabregas, Kante, Bakayoko, Alonso; Hazard; Morata
Southampton starting XI: Forster; Stephens, Yoshida, Van Dijk, Bertrand; Romeu, Hojbjerg; Ward-Prowse, Tadic, Redmond; Austin
- Antonio Conte has the best win percentage of any permanent Chelsea manager in league history (74.6%).
- Southampton have kept one clean sheet in their last 24 PL meetings with Chelsea, a goalless draw on Boxing Day 2002 with Antti Niemi in goal.
- Charlie Austin has scored eight goals in his last 12 Premier League starts for Southampton, including four in his last four matches.
Cesc Fabregas – Chelsea
Midfielder Cesc Fabregas has forced his way back into the side – occasionally playing in a midfield three alongside N’Golo Kante and Timoue Bakayoko. A vastly experienced midfielder in the Premier League, the World Cup winning Spaniard has contributed to 4 goals this season from 13 starts under Antonio Conte and is generally the driving force at home – orchestrating the midfield, making others tick.
His link-up play with the forwards will be key against the visitors who are not really coming into this one with a lot of confidence.
Oriol Romeu – Southampton
Former Chelsea man Oriol Romeu has been a vital player in the first team squad at the St. Mary’s, with a keen eye for ball retention. He averages 63 passes per game, maintains close to 85% of pass accuracy and against a side like Chelsea who will hog most of the ball on Saturday, it is key to make the most out of the possession they are going to have which is why Romeu will be crucial for the visitors in the middle of the park with regard to using the ball better when in possession and winning it in key areas when not in possession of the ball.
Chelsea will have a comfortable afternoon.
Chelsea 2-0 Southampton