Chelsea visit Southampton on Sunday just two days after playing West Ham at home. It’s a quick turnaround for the Blues, like all Premier League sides, playing two games across this Christmas weekend. With another big away game to come next week, the trip to Spurs, we could see a bit of squd rotation here.
The Blues come in to this one on the back of a 2-0 win over West Ham, so Jose Mourinho will be unlikely to make too many changes, but there will be a few who need a break. The advanced midfield players would be most prone to injury in this situation, given their playing style, so we could see one or two of them miss out. Mourinho has been fantastic at keeping his team fresh this year, so hopefully he can keep that up.
Southampton will be facing the same issues, and they have a much smaller squad. Their team was in London on Boxing Day for a trip to Crystal Palace. The Saints are currently fifth in the Premier League table, having had a great season so far. Given their recent blip where they lost to Man City, Arsenal and Manchester United, you’d expect Chelsea to be heavy favourites for this one, regardless of the fixture list.
Still, to be in that position at this stage of the season shows just how well they’ve been playing, and their defence has been a big part of that. Alongside Chelsea, they have the best defensive record in the league this season. That may just make this game quite a low scoring affair.
Interestingly, the Blues actually kicked off 2014 in the same place that they’ll end it. This trip to St Marys is their last match of the year, and they visited here on New Year’s Day last season. They beat Southampton 3-0 that day, but the game is most remembered for the constant close ups of the soon to depart Juan Mata, after he was hauled off. Chelsea struggled for the first hour down there, before Fernando Torres, Willian and Oscar put the game to bed.
The Blues would take another result like that, as they look to go in to 2015 as Premier League leaders. Manchester City are hot on their tails, and they have a much easier Christmas fixture list, with Sunderland and Burnley visiting the Etihad over the next week. With City unlikely to drop points, this is a must win game for Chelsea.
The Blues have a good record against Southampton, and they should be able to get a win here. Expect to see a couple of changes from the side that beat West Ham, but both teams will need to make changes and, as said, it is the Blues who possess the greater depth of talent. This is the part of the season when Chelsea’s squad should help them through, and they’ll need more than just 15 great players if they want to win the title.
LCN Verdict: Chelsea to win 2-0