Chelsea took the disappointment of losing to Tottenham into last weekend’s top flight game, and they dropped another two points at home to West Ham. That demoralising result has only added to the sour mood around the camp, with Cesar Azplicueta all but labelling their Premier League campaign as a disaster. Having fallen from champions to mere Europa League hopefuls in the space of 12 months, the players just haven’t offered enough over the course of the last 32 games. With a 10 point gap between themselves and fourth place, will the Blues have any reason to up their game for this weekend’s trip to the South Coast?
Chelsea head to 18th placed Southampton at the weekend, their opponents in the FA Cup semi-final later this month. The champions are coming off a slip to another relegation threatened side. Having dropped five points to David Moyes’ West Ham, the Blues have failed to assert themselves against the worst sides in the league. Can they improve on that record when they visit Mark Hughes’ new side, or will the former Stamford Bridge hero get a boost after a tough start to his reign as Saints boss?
Team News: Is It Time for Conte to Rotate?
We suggested last week that the Chelsea side should incorporate younger players after the Champions League got away from them. However, Antonio Conte upped the age of the team last weekend as Gary Cahill returned for Andreas Christensen. That feels quite counterproductive, but there’s simply no case for making a Champions League push now, with the gap up to 10 points. These two sides meet again at Wembley a week on Sunday, so keeping a few players back might be worthwhile. The Blues are without Ross Barkley, David Luiz and Davide Zappacosta, but they still have plenty of room to rotate. However, Conte is likely to avoid rocking the boat in this trip, so don’t expect him to make any changes in this trip.
Steve Davis is the only real concern Southampton have right now, so they should name a strong side here. Hughes’ went with a 4-4-2 on his return to Premier League action, but that resulted in a loss at West Ham. They looked much better going forward at Arsenal, where they used a 3-4-3 set-up. The wing-backs and attackers flourished with that approach, while Pierre Emil Hojberg and ex-Chelsea man Oriol Romeu act as a shield in front of the three man back-line. That system has troubled the Blues this term, which isn’t a good omen for either of the upcoming clashes with Saints.
Mark Hughes took charge of Southampton last month, and he managed to inspire a 2-0 win at Wigan in his first game in charge. Since then, the former Stoke boss has dragged his team in to the drop zone, following defeats to West Ham and Arsenal, conceding three goals in each.
There are plenty of concerns for the Saints this season, including the fact that they’ve won just three home matches all season. The highest placed team they’ve beaten so far is ninth placed Everton, having claimed three of their five league wins against bottom four opposition. That run has left Hughes and his team in trouble, and with no home win since November, the Saints are facing the prospect of playing Championship football next season.
Southampton v Chelsea Head to Head
Chelsea edged a win in a meeting with Mauricio Pellegrino’s Southampton earlier this season, when the pair met at Stamford Bridge. The Blues were brilliant in a 2-0 victory at this ground last season, which is one of three victories they’ve recorded at this ground in their last four trips. Can they match the highs of last season, or will this be another slip for Conte and his men?
- Chelsea 1-0 Southampton, Dec 2017
- Chelsea 4-2 Southampton, Apr 2017
- Southampton 0-2 Chelsea, Oct 2016
- Southampton 1-2 Chelsea, Feb 2016
- Chelsea 1-3 Southampton, Oct 2015
- Both Teams to Score – 10/11 with Betfred
- Draw – 5/2 with Coral
Chelsea come into this game as favourites, but it’s rare that you’ll see the defending champions priced at 17/20 with Ladbrokes to win at a relegation threatened side. With almost 30 points between the sides, the Saints are priced up at 18/5 with BetVictor to record a much needed victory, while you can back the draw at 5/2 with Coral this weekend. Given recent form from both sides, it is hard to settle on a winner between the pair. Chelsea do seem like a decent price, but can they shake their recent problems and find something to fire them up for this clash?
The Blues have clear concerns at the back, and the three man defence hasn’t really been effective for over a year now. Problems emerged towards the end of the previous campaign, and now Conte seems lost for a way to combat that. The champions aren’t up against the highest scoring of opponents this weekend, but the Saints did just score twice at in-form Arsenal last weekend. The Blues have failed to keep a clean sheet in eight, while they’ve recorded one away clean sheet in the league in 2018. With that in mind, we’re backing both teams to score at 10/11 with Betfred.
Chelsea’s defensive woes are causing plenty of dropped points, with just two wins in nine away trips in the league. They’ve recorded 12 points from their last 11 matches, and that could offer the Saints a chance to get something out of this clash. Both Tottenham and Arsenal – the teams either side of Chelsea in the table – both drew 1-1 at this ground, with the Saints securing seven draws at home this term. They’ve picked up a point in 13 Premier League matches this season, so the draw seems worthwhile at 5/2 with Coral given how the visitors are playing right now.