Venue: St Mary’s
Date: Wednesday 1 January
Kick-off: 15.00 GMT
With the wrapping paper cleared away, the tree looking like its seen better days and the hangover kicking in nicely, it’s time for the first Premier League games of the season – and first up for us in 2014 is a trip to St Mary’s.
We start this calendar year 3rd in the table, having lost just one of our last nine games, whilst Southampton come into the game ninth in the table with just one win in eight. The Saints did have a good win on Boxing Day, although lost to Everton Sunday, whilst we may well be buoyed up after a decent win against Liverpool on Sunday. Of course, we’ll be looking to do the double over Southampton, having already beaten them at Stamford Bridge in December although our away form will need to improve if we don’t want our hard work over the Christmas period to be undone.
Going into today’s game, Saints boss Mauricio Pochettino says “It’s clear that Chelsea are a top side, a great team. They have great, talented players. We learned a lot from that game (at Chelsea). It was a very competitive game and it’s going to be another competitive game against them this time around. There are many factors that happened during that game to balance the end result of the game. We know them well and we’re more than aware that we’re going to be facing a very tough team.”
Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho meanwhile, doesn’t seem to have had much to say about this one although I assume he’s saving himself for the punditry after. Chelsea captain, John Terry though, warns “It’s going to be tough because they’re very good at home and it proved a difficult game here (Stamford Bridge) when they scored pretty early. They are a good footballing side, very much like Liverpool, who try and play out from the back so we’re expecting a tough game.”
For Southampton, Artur Boruc (hand), Victor Wanyama (fractured leg) and Guly do Prado (knee) miss out through injury and Pablo Daniel Osvaldo (illness) will face a late check. Morgan Schneiderlin returns after missing Sunday’s defeat at Everton through suspension.
For Chelsea, Frank Lampard (muscular injury), Branislav Ivanovic (knee) and Marco van Ginkel (knee) are all injured and David Luiz serves a one-match ban whilst Ramires returns from his.
SOUTHAMPTON (Possible line-up): Gazzaniga, Chambers, Yoshida, Jose Fonte, Shaw, Cork, Schneiderlin, Rodriguez, St. Davis, Lallana, Lambert
CHELSEA (Possible line-up): Cech , Azpilicueta, Terry, Cahill, Cole, Ramires, Mikel, Hazard, Oscar, Mata, Torres
Southampton 2-1 Chelsea (30 March 2013)
The Saints have beaten us just once in the last nine in the league although notably, that was last season and all three of our defeats this season have come away from home. In fact, we’ve won just 3 of our 9 games away so far this season and we failed to score away in 4 of those (United, Everton, Newcastle and Arsenal). So, either our front men’s New Year resolutions have all been made to address that, or we could actually struggle for more than a point here today.