Southampton (19) vs Chelsea (5)
Saturday, 14 April, 12:30 BST
St. Mary’s Stadium, Southampton
We will be looking to avoid a fourth successive Premier League away defeat when we travel to Southampton for the early kick-off on Saturday. The Saints, managed by former Blue Mark Hughes, are even deeper water than us at the moment, languishing in 19th following a run of just 1 win in 18 in the league. This is the first of two games against Southampton in a week, as we also face them in the FA Cup semi-final next Sunday. Sandwiched between these games is a trip to high-flying Burnley, and Antonio Conte faces a test to utilise his squad effectively.
Southampton are one of only four sides to have a worse record than us in 2018. They are four points from safety, witj just five games left to play. If it is to happen for them, it has to start now.
Our return of just three wins in this calendar year sees finishing in the top 4 be nothing but a distant dream. Following last week’s 1-1 draw at home to West Ham United, we lie 10 points behind Spurs, who occupy the last of the Champions League places at the moment.
On our travels in the league, we have lost our last three – against Watford and the two Manchester clubs. We haven’t played away from Stamford Bridge since the 4th of March, when City beat us 1-0.
In the reverse fixture at the Bridge back in December, we beat Southampton 1-0 thanks to a Marcos Alonso free-kick. Back then, we were sitting 3rd in the table and were on a run of 8 wins in 10 games. Oh, how times have changed!
Southampton team news
Jack Stephens is suspended for the home side, after picking up a red card in last week’s 3-2 loss against Arsenal.
Midfielder Steven Davis is out with an Achilles injury, while Mario Lemina and Shane Long should both pass late fitness tests to be available.
Chelsea team news
On our end, David Luiz and Ethan Ampadu are long-term absentees with knee and ankle injuries, respectively.
Ross Barkley has started his recuperation from a hamstring problem, and also featured for the U-23’s earlier this month. It is unlikely though, that he will be available this Saturday.
Davide Zappacosta could return from a tendon problem.
With 3 games in 8 days coming up, it will be interesting to see what changes Conte makes for this one. The FA Cup next weekend is arguably our most important game of our remaining season.
Chelsea possible line-up
(3-4-3): Courtois, Azpilicueta, Christensen, Rüdiger; Moses, Drinkwater, Bakayoko, Alonso; Hazard, Morata, Pedro.
It’s very difficult to predict wins for both these teams at the moment, considering the form they’re in. St. Mary’s has traditionally been a happy hunting ground for us, and Hughes has already lost twice to us this season, as manager of Stoke City. The Saints did, however, show a lot of spirit and desire against Arsenal last week, and will be no pushovers. I’ll go with the entertaining option of a high-scoring draw.
Southampton 2-2 Chelsea