Chelsea are hoping to get their season back on track this weekend, with Southampton the visitors to Stamford Bridge. After a draw against Newcastle and a defeat at Porto, they’ll need to get back to winning ways, so they’ll be targeting a solid victory here. The Saints are struggling themselves, but they’re a resourceful side so could they put another dent in Chelsea’s season here?
Southampton come into this match on the back of a 10 game winless run away from home in the league, which will surely be a boost to Jose Mourinho. He knows how badly his side need a win, since they’re currently 14th in the table. Given how the south coast team have picked up results at the Bridge twice in the three seasons since their promotion, they could well cause a shock.
Expect to see a few more changes following the Porto defeat. Eden Hazard was dropped to the bench for that game, while Loic Remy and Radamel Falcao weren’t in the squad. After another poor display at the back, it’s likely that something will change in the defence. At this stage, Abdul Baba Rahman surely deserves to take the place of Branislav Ivanovic, who can’t seem to stop making mistakes.
One change we’ll definitely see is up front, as Diego Costa serves the final game of his suspension. It’s likely that Remy will be given the nod up top, he’s had the edge over Falcao so far this season. We should also see a formation change, moving back to the 4-2-3-1 from Tuesday’s 4-3-3. That’ll give Remy a little extra support in the final third. We also expect Mikel to drop out, with Oscar coming back in.
There’s still a question over Cesc Fabregas, who hasn’t been at his best this season. He kept his place for the Champions League game, but will he retain his position in the starting XI here? Given Ramires’ fine recent displays, it looks like the Brazilian will get his chance in the team, as Mourinho really needs to try a new approach. Fabregas looked set for a promising career at Chelsea a few months back, but now his future is unclear.
Fabregas and Hazard – the best players last season – are both out of form while Costa is suspended, so someone really needs to step up and fill that void. Willian has arguable done that with his goals lately, but he’s not yet doing quite enough. Hopefully Oscar can step up given the chance, as he hasn’t really had a run in the team recently. He was a vital part of the highs of last season, but can he reach that level while others are struggling?
This game will once again see questions asked of Mourinho. He seems strangely clam after defeats, which could be a good sign, although it feels a little worrying. The manager needs a response in this game, and he needs to do something to wake his players up. Even grinding out a win would put his side back on track.
LCN Verdict: Chelsea to win 2-1