Southampton vs Chelsea: Match Preview

If you hadn’t looked at a Premier League table before this match and I told you one of these teams are 6th, after 6 consecutive clean sheets, 5 wins and 1 draw in their past six. The other,12th after being in a relegation struggle and a change of manager. You’d be shocked for me to say Chelsea were the latter. This match epitomises how crazy and unpredictable the 2015/16 Premier League season has been so far. Both of these sides looked to be in a potential relegation battle, but since Gus Hiddink has returned at the helm for Chelsea, replacing Jose Mourinho, the Blues have looked more like the team that won the league last year. Southampton steered clear of the relegation dog fight and returned fighting for a European place since a change of formation and Fraser Forster’s return from injury.

Teams

Jay Rodriguez and Florin Gardos both returned to full training for Southampton this week, after lengthy spells on the sidelines. However, neither the Englishmen or the Romanian will be available for the Saints this weekend. Southampton will still be missing Victor Wanyama who’s still serving his five match ban after receiving three red cards this season. Steven Davis returned for Southampton against Swansea after missing the previous three games with a slight hamstring injury and looks to be fine to play again against Chelsea. Ronald Koeman is expected to play the 3-5-2 formation which has worked so well for his Southampton side in recent weeks. With Matt Targett playing left wing back and Ryan Bertrand slotting into the left side of centre back; both players have flourished in these new roles. £4million signing Charlie Austin could be in line for his first start in Southampton colours since leaving QPR in January. Fraser Forster could match Paul Jones’ consecutive clean sheet record of 7 if he keeps Diego Costa, Willian and Oscar quiet this weekend.

Captain John Terry is a doubt for Chelsea as he is still recovering from a hamstring injury sustained against Newcastle. The Blues will also be missing Terry’s defensive partner Kurt Zouma. The Frenchman sustained a nasty ACL injury against Man Utd and will be missing for Chelsea for up to 6 months. Chelsea could be unchanged from the side that beat Man City in the FA Cup last Sunday, but with a crucial Champions League second leg at home to PSG a few key players may be rested. January signing Alexandre Pato is unlikely to make his first appearance for Chelsea since joining on loan from Brazilian side Corinthians. Hiddink appears to be getting a tune out of Eden Hazard again after his disastrous first half to the season. The Belgium international could be crucial if Chelsea are to score past Fraser Forster. Something Hazard achieved in the corresponding fixture last year.

Past Meetings

2012/13:
16th January 2013- Chelsea 2-2 Southampton:
Chelsea lead the game 2-0 at half time with goals through Demba Ba and Eden Hazard, but two second half goals including a Jason Puncheon stunner drew the Saints level in what turned out to be Nigel Adkins last game in charge of Southampton.

30th March 2013- Southampton 2-1 Chelsea:
Cult-hero Rickie Lambert whipped a free-kick past Petr Cech in the Chelsea goal after John Terry equalised for the Blues from a corner.

2013/14:
1st December 2013- Chelsea 3-1 Southampton:
Southampton lead after just 13 seconds when Jay Rodriguez ran onto Essien’s soft back pass and slotted passed Cech. Chelsea scored three second half goals to win the match including a John Terry header.

1st January 2014- Southampton 0-3 Chelsea:
Three second half goals saw José Mourinho’s side take all three points against Mauricio Pochettino’s Saints. Fernando Torres, Willian and Oscar scored the goals for Chelsea. Oscar and Willian were both second half substitutes to the frustration of Juan Mata who was replaced by Oscar.

2014/15:
28th December 2014- Southampton 1-1 Chelsea:
Southampton took the lead as Mané out paced Terry after a clever pass from Tadić. The Senegalese international stayed calm and dinked the ball over 6ft5 ‘keeper Courtois. Eden Hazard equalised for the Blues just before half time when her checked inside and slammed the ball passed Fraser Forster

15th March 2015- Chelsea 1-1 Southampton:
Both sides share the spoils again as a Dusan Tadić penalty cancelled out Diego Costa’s header.

2015/16:
3rd October 2015- Chelsea 1-3 Southampton:
Chelsea lead the game when Willian sent a free-kick swooping over Stekelenburg’s head. Steven Davis scored just before the break when he latched onto Graziano Pelle’s knock down to hit a half-volley underneath Begović. Goals from Mané and Pelle himself sealed the win for Ronald Koeman’s side.

Stats

Saints will be looking to complete their first league double over the Blues since 1987/88 season, when they beat Chelsea 3-0 at the Dell and 1-0 at Stamford Bridge.
Chelsea have lost just one of their last seven visits to St Mary’s, winning four and drawing two.
In order to match Paul Jones’ Premier League clean sheet record then Saints must keep their first clean sheet in 12 games against Chelsea.

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