Can Chelsea build on their midweek victory over Huddersfield by seeing off Southampton at Stamford Bridge this weekend? The Blues are looking to get back on track after their shock loss to West Ham, but most of the sides below them have also dropped points of late, while Tottenham are gearing up for a tough trip to Manchester City on Saturday. That gives the champions an opportunity to boost their prospects of finishing in the top four this term, which has to be the minimum achievement from this campaign despite the patchy form which has hampered any potential title charge.
Antonio Conte will want his side to put together a run of form to carry the Blues into a commanding position in third, with the sides behind them struggling for form too. If the hosts can add another three points against the Saints, they should be able to finish 2017 on a high. With a League Cup quarter-final to come – along with a favourable run in the league – this should be the month when Conte’s men come into their own. Man City may be running away with things at the top, but the Blues could at least be the team chasing down Pep Guardiola’s side this season.
Team News: Conte Hoping for Morata Return After Midweek Absence
Chelsea’s big absentee in midweek was Alvaro Morata, who had been looking tired in recent weeks. The forward should start again here, but Conte does have a decision to make. The Blues started with Willian and Pedro behind false nine Eden Hazard in the 3-1 win over Huddersfield. That victory may have Conte considering using that system again, given that the Blues have picked up four big wins when using that approach. However, having splashed out over £50million on the Spanish striker in the summer, we can’t see him being left out of this one – especially as he’s working really well with Hazard in a front two. Conte’s other big choice is deciding if he starts with a 3-4-3 once again, or moves back to a 3-5-2 with Hazard and Morata paired together.
Southampton have no injury concerns coming into this game, but they’re still expected to make some changes here. They could move away from their 4-2-3-1 formation following a poor display against Leicester in midweek. They aren’t looking that solid at the back despite having an impressive array of defensive talent, while the Saints aren’t getting on the front foot to dominate games, so they could really do with switching things up in this game.
The Saints made a pretty sluggish start, and that was without facing most of the top sides in the division. They’ve now won one of their last eight in the league having come up against some of the big six teams, and this trip to Chelsea is another tough afternoon for the Saints.
The visitors find themselves just four points above the drop after some awful form, and they could sink even closer to the bottom of the table with a slip up here. Having lost seven of their 17 games so far, the side who have been regulars in the top eight over the last few seasons are struggling. To make matters worse, they come in to this one having lost 4-1 to Claude Puel in midweek – the manager they dismissed in the summer.
Chelsea v Southampton Head to Head
Southampton have established themselves as a top 10 side in the Premier League, and as a result they’ve become a thorn in Chelsea’s side. That was not apparent last season, as the Blues won home and away against the Saints. However, a 4-2 aggregate defeat across two meetings in 2015 shows how dangerous the visitors can be on their day. Luckily their recent form hasn’t been quite up to scratch, which is a boost for the champions.
- Chelsea 4-2 Southampton, Apr 2017
- Southampton 0-2 Chelsea, Oct 2016
- Southampton 1-2 Chelsea, Feb 2016
- Chelsea 1-3 Southampton, Oct 2015
- Chelsea 1-1 Southampton, Mar 2015
- Chelsea to win and over 2.5 goals – Evens with Ladbrokes
- Both teams to score – Evens with Betfred
Chelsea have been made 4/11 favourites with BetVictor to take the points in this one, with the Saints coming off the back of a poor result against Leicester. They’re priced at 17/2 with Betfair to bounce back from that loss by claiming all three points in this trip, while you can back the draw here at 15/4 with Coral. However, we can’t see anything but a home win in this game, with Conte’s troops dropping points in just two of their 19 home league matches against sides from outside of the top six. The Blues tend to see off the smaller sides at the Bridge, which bodes well for the champions as they really need another three points on the board here.
We can see quite a few goals being scored when these two sides meet, with 11 of their last 13 encounters seeing both teams score. That includes the last six meetings at Stamford Bridge, with the Saints boasting a decent record at this ground of late. To make matters worse for the Blues, they are up against a side who are in goalscoring form, with both teams scoring in all of the Saints’ last five games.
As a result, it could take a few goals for the Blues to get a result here. They’ve conceded in their last four outings, which has us thinking that they’ll need to score a few to see off the men from the south coast. We can certainly see both teams scoring again, which is priced at evens with Betfred, while we’re backing the home team to win this one with over 2.5 goals in the match at evens with Ladbrokes – having scored three goals in two of their last three league matches.