Southampton welcome Chelsea to St Mary’s in the Premier League on Tuesday evening.
The Saints were denied consecutive Premier League victories by Bruno Fernandes’ sumptuous strike last Saturday despite pushing Manchester United close. Southampton’s efforts were recognised by a round of applause at the full-time whistle from the home fans.
A collective sigh of relief would have been the more appropriate response to Chelsea’s narrow 2-1 victory at home to Leicester City. The visitors outshot their hosts 17 to seven and Thomas Tuchel admitted his side were “lucky to not concede the equaliser”.
Here’s everything you need to know about the upcoming meeting between this pair.
Southampton: 0 Wins
Chelsea: 3 Wins
Tino Livramento had to have his left ACL reconstructed after suffering a major injury in April. The fullback is in the stage of his recovery where he can once again kick a ball around but is still months away from featuring in the fury of a Premier League match. Ralph Hasenhuttl is expected to have a full squad to choose from otherwise.
Southampton Starting 11: Bazunu; Walker-Peters, Bella-Kotchap, Salisu, Perraud; Ward-Prowse, Lavia; Elyounoussi, Aribo, A Armstrong; Adams.
Bench: McCarthy, Lyanco, Romeu, Djenepo, S Armstrong, Mara, Diallo, Bednarek, Valery.
With N’Golo Kante slated to be out until October, Mateo Kovacic’s presence on the bench was a welcome return. The Croatian may be thrust back into the starting XI after Conor Gallagher was dismissed inside the opening half-hour of Chelsea’s hard-fought victory against Leicester.
Kalidou Koulibaly has served his suspension for the red card he sustained against Leeds.
Chelsea Starting 11: Mendy; James, Silva, Koulibaly; Loftus-Cheek, Kovacic, Jorginho, Cucurella; Mount; Havertz, Sterling.
Bench: Arrizabalaga, Pulisic, Broja, Hudson-Odoi, Chilwell, Ziyech, Azpilicueta, Ampadu, Chalobah.
Leeds exposed Chelsea’s susceptibility to a well-oiled press the weekend before last and Brendan Rodgers was left bemoaning his side’s passive approach when the Blues were wounded.
Only three teams have forced more high turnovers than Southampton this term (per Opta) and they boast a savvy and swift centre-back pairing which allows them to push high off the ball. The sheer weight of quality in this Chelsea side gives them the edge, but Southampton could certainly cause this imperfect iteration a problem.
Prediction: Southampton 0-1 Chelsea