Chelsea face a tricky trip to St Mary’s Stadium as they attempt to put together a run of results to launch them into Champions League contention. It has been an encouraging, if inconsistent, start to life as a Premier League manager for Frank Lampard. The supporters have been excited by his team selections and the performances of many players. However, the board will want to see more consistency in results before this appointment can be considered a success. The match on Sunday won’t be easy, but it’s certainly an opportunity.
Southampton have had a similarly inconsistent start to the season, as Ralph Hasenhuttl continues to adapt to the Premier League. There was genuine excitement following his appointment, but the progress hasn’t been as quick as supporters would have liked. They have taken seven points from seven games. If they are to surge clear of relegation trouble, they will need to display better form than that. They are currently safely above the drop zone, but that could quickly change with a few bad results.
Chelsea have been a breath of fresh air this season, as a number of talented players have been given an opportunity to prove their worth. Tammy Abraham and Fikayo Tomori have both received England call-ups this week, with the pair joining Mason Mount in the squad. The recovering Reece James and Callum Hudson-Odoi will be hoping to join their team-mates in the coming months, with both set to receive increased playing time. The Blues may have been forced into playing some of these players, but they are now reaping the rewards and other top-six clubs will be envious of the potential this squad possesses.
Last weekend, Southampton managed 58.8% possession against Tottenham. This was the most that an opposition team has managed in an away game against a top six since November 2014.
Willian scored his first Premier League goal in 17 matches against Brighton last weekend.
James Ward-Prowse has become a key player for Southampton over the past couple of years and he is one of the first names on the team sheet under Hasenhuttl. This season, he has only contributed one goal in the Premier League this season. However, he is a player that can produce in big matches and he will relish the opportunity to make an impact against a top-six team. Last weekend, he was slightly disappointing against Tottenham, especially when the home side went down to ten men. There was more space for the visitors to exploit and they had plenty of the ball, but they failed to make their possession count. Ward-Prowse is a player that is looked upon for creativity and he managed to create only one chance during the game. They need from him and this fixture is a good chance to get back to his best.
The striker has been called up to the England squad and he could make his first competitive appearance for the Three Lions. This would spell the end of the uncertainty regarding the nation Abraham would choose to represent. Nigeria had been interested in him, but it looks like he will stick with England. It has been an excellent start to the season for Abraham as he has emerged as the premier striker for Chelsea. He has scored seven Premier League goals and he managed to score during the week against Lille. It was his first Champions League goal and it showed his progress at the beginning of this season. Last weekend, he had five attempts against Brighton with an expected goals of more than 1. He would have scored on most other days and he will be looking to return to scoring ways in the Premier League.
Cedric Soares is going to be missing until after the international break. Moussa Djenepo and Alex McCarthy are also set to miss out for the home side. Danny Ings is expected to start following a good run of form.
N’Golo Kante is pushing to start in the Premier League following his return from injury. Reece James and Callum Hudson-Odoi are both pushing for minutes following impressive performances during the week.
This is going to be an interesting watch, as Southampton have the potential to cause problems for top-six teams. Although they didn’t play too well against Tottenham, they have the quality to do well against Chelsea. Lampard’s side can be naive at the back and that could play into Southampton’s side. That said, the Blues are starting to hit their rhythm and will be full of confidence on Sunday. They should have enough to earn a vital three points on the road.
Southampton 1-2 Chelsea