Chelsea will be looking to bounce back from their disappointing Champions League exit to PSG with a win over Southampton on Sunday. After their 2-2 draw with the French champions last Wednesday, they crashed out of Europe on away goals, so this is the only competition that the Blues have left to play in this season.
With the side still top of the Premier League and the Capital One Cup already won, Jose Mourinho is still on course to guide his team to a successful campaign. The manner of the exit against PSG wasn’t just disappointing, it was worrying, especially ahead of the title race run in. With a five point lead and a game in hand the trophy should be as good as won with a few more wins, but progress looked just as certain on Wednesday until they threw it away.
With an away goal lead, home advantage and a man advantage for much of the game, Chelsea should have come through their last 16 game against PSG. The side just didn’t play well enough, they weren’t ruthless enough. That has been identified as a failure of the team on many occasions before, and it still hasn’t been fixed. The big worry now is that the side coast towards the title like they did against the Parisians. That kind of lazy display would allow City right back in with the chance to retain their crown.
Focus will be the key aspect of the last few weeks of the campaign, as the Premier League does seem to be Chelsea’s to lose from here. This weekend’s game will be a big test of their mettle, as they face Champions League-chasing Southampton at Stamford Bridge. The Saints have been in impressive form this season, shocking most with their consistency, but they’ve hit a bit of a rough patch of late. They’ve found scoring goals a problem, and they’ve dropped out of the top four after a few poor results.
They held the league leaders to a 1-1 draw at St Mary’s over the festive period, a result which contributed to City closing the gap early this year. Mourinho will be hoping for a better result and performance this time, and he’ll be looking for a few of the out of form players to step up. While no one is expected to be 10/10 every time, the likes of Cesc Fabregas and Diego Costa have dropped off massively in recent weeks. That may be just to the lack of a winter break, but the team can’t carry those two while they’re playing below par.
We may see a few changes for this game, with the likes of Costa or Fabregas sitting a game out. Loic Remy is waiting in the wings to come on up front, but there isn’t as many options in midfield. After this game, the Blues will have just 10 games left this season, and this is the time when they need to show just how much they’ve improved since last year.
LCN Verdict: Chelsea to win 2-0