Chelsea are back in action pretty quickly following their enthralling FA Cup win over Spurs. They face Southampton on Tuesday night as they return to their Premier League title charge. While Antonio Conte has suggested that hands Spurs an advantage in the title race, any prospective Champions League side should be able to handle a Saturday then Tuesday schedule, especially given how light the Blues’ fixture list has been this term compared to others. While the Italian boss is hoping his mind games switch the pressure on to a reeling Tottenham side, he won’t accept any excuses for a slip up this week.
The Blues will want to claim the first of the five wins they need when they host Southampton. They can potentially go seven points clear of Spurs with a win, with their nearest rivals facing a tough trip to Crystal Palace. This could prove to be a great week for Conte’s side, but they need to avoid another slip up at home to Southampton. The Saints have been impressive at this ground since returning to the top flight, which makes this a tough fixture to play 72 hours after a crunch match at Wembley.
Team News: Changes likely after shock Conte selection
Following Sunday’s incredible rotation from Conte, it’s hard to know what to expect here. We still aren’t fully sure if Diego Costa and Eden Hazard were rested or dropped, but they should have done enough to return to the side after both coming off the bench on Saturday. The only issue is that both Willian and Michy Batshuayi, their replacements in the starting XI on Saturday, were both very impressive. We know that the 3-4-3 formation will stay, with Gary Cahill set to return. N’Golo Kante is set to play his first game since being named PFA Player of the Year on Sunday night, capping off an excellent weekend for the Blues.
Southampton are missing Virgil van Dijk at the back, who is a rumoured target for Antonio Conte in the summer. They’re also missing Charlie Adam ahead of this game. The Saints have stuck with a 4-2-3-1 formation of late, and we expect them to use that set up once again on Tuesday. Claude Puel should be able to name his strongest available side, as the Saints had the weekend off to prepare for this fixture. Will that prove to be an advantage for them? With an EFL Cup campaign and Europa League games earlier in the season, the visitors have played more matches than the leaders this term. That week off might not be the biggest of boosts after all.
Southampton have been solid enough under Puel this season, but there’s a clear step down in quality between this side and the one which finished sixth last term, The Saints aren’t in any position to push for Europe this season, although they did have a League Cup final appearance earlier in the campaign. Since losing to Manchester United at Wembley, there’s been little for Southampton to fight for. They’re on course to make the top half in the league, but that seems to be the height of their ambitions right now.
The Saints’ last Premier League game saw them taken apart at home to Manchester City. A 3-0 defeat to the Citizens came after back to back wins, and that highlights just how inconsistent they’ve been this term. They’ve lost 50% of their away Premier League games, so it’s hard to see the visitors proving to be much of a threat on Tuesday night.
Chelsea v Southampton Head to Head
While the Blues have won the last two meetings with the Saints, both of those have been at St Mary’s. Southampton have avoided defeat at Stamford Bridge in their last two visits. That includes a 3-1 win in their last trip, one of the darkest days in Jose Mourinho’s final few months at the club. There’s a stark contrast between that performance, and the ease at which Conte’s side won on the south coast this season.
- Southampton 0-2 Chelsea, Oct 2016
- Southampton 1-2 Chelsea, Feb 2016
- Chelsea 1-3 Southampton, Oct 2015
- Chelsea 1-1 Southampton, Mar 2015
- Southampton 1-1 Chelsea, Dec 2014
- Both teams to score – 11/10 with Betfred
- Willian to score any time – 23/10 with Ladbrokes
Chelsea come into this game priced at 4/9 with Bet365 to take the points on Saturday night. The draw is 7/2 with Coral, while Saints are 15/2 with BetVictor to cause a shock. Clearly the bookies aren’t expecting Southampton to pull off a shock this week. Despite the Blues’ recent troubles in the league, losing two of their last four outings, they’re expected to easily take a victory at the Bridge. However, defensive concerns could make that a little harder to accomplish, especially judging by their displays in the last week or so against Manchester United and Spurs. Both fixtures have continued to highlight the Blues’ issues at the back.
Chelsea have conceded in their last 10 Premier League matches, a run which stretches back to January’s win over Hull. Following that run up by shipping two against Tottenham wasn’t great, and it gives the Saints a chance to cause trouble this week. The visitors come have having scored in their last five visits to the Bridge, while four of the last five encounters between these two have seen both teams score. That makes BTTS look like excellent value at 11/10 with Betfred.
Our second tip is backing Willian to continue his brilliant form. We think he’ll keep his place, possibly at the expense of Pedro, and we’re backing the Brazilian to follow up his two goal haul in the semi final with an impressive display. After scoring in such an important game, he’s bound to be full of confidence. We can see the free-kick maestro making another impression this week, and he’s great value to score any time at 23/10 with Ladbrokes.