Chelsea posted a massive victory on Sunday as they beat Liverpool 2-1 at Stamford Bridge with goals from Eden Hazard and Samuel Eto’o. The victory moved Chelsea up to third in the table, a point behind second place Man City and two behind leader Arsenal.
Jose Mourinho’s men played as well as they have for some weeks as they went toe-to-toe with the Merseyside team, but it was the visitors who struck first blood, Martin Skrtel tapping in a Luis Suarez knockdown with just three minutes on the clock. But the goal seemed only to awaken the Blues who fought well and created plenty of chances. It was no surprise, then, when the home side equalised through a fine strike from Hazard, the Belgian’s eighth league goal of the season. Eto’o then struck after being played in by Oscar and while Liverpool keeper Simon Mignolet could have done better, the lead was deserved.
Chelsea will need to put in a similarly fine performance when they travel to Southampton on New Year’s Day. Despite the Saints having lost five of their last eight in the league – winning only once in that time – they are a dangerous side, as they showed when they gave Chelsea a run for their money at the Bridge despite the home side eventually running out 3-1 victors.
Mauricio Pochettino’s men were narrowly beaten by Everton on Sunday, the 2-1 defeat meaning they drop down to ninth position in the table. But they gave as good as they got for much of the game and they could certainly have enough to trouble the Blues if they are not on top form. It was Chelsea’s on-loan striker Romelu Lukaku who scored the winner for Everton and Pochettino will be disappointed given his side created more chances and had 55% of the possession. But the only stat that counts is the number of goals and Everton did enough on that front to earn the win.
Last season the Saints took four points off Chelsea, winning at St Mary’s and earning a 2-2 draw at Stamford Bridge, so Mourinho would be right to be wary of the threat the south coast club pose. If he’s not and the Portuguese boss decides to rotate his squad, the Blues could be in for a tough game.
There will be the temptation to keep the core of the side who played so well against Liverpool, but then who are we to second guess the Special One? On balance though we think the Blues will have enough to get the three points, though we can’t see it being a walk in the park. We think both sides will get on the score sheet but that Mourinho’s men will just edge it, with 2-1 our prediction here in what could be hard-fought but highly entertaining match – the perfect remedy to a New Year’s Day hangover.
LCN Verdict: Chelsea to win 2-1