Chelsea’s Samuel Eto’o is ruled out of today’s game against Southampton after suffering a hamstring injury during the 1-0 defeat to FC Basel in the UEFA Champions League on Tuesday night.
Brazilian defender David Luiz is back in training after bruising his patella but this match has come too soon for him and he joins Eto’o and long-term absentee Marco van Ginkel on the list of names that are unavailable.
Southampton will be boosted by the return of Gaston Ramirez and former Blue Jack Cork returning to action, so it’s a clean bill of health for Mauricio Pochettino’s side as they hope to take points off Chelsea just as they did last season when fighting back from 2-0 down.
The Saints have only conceded seven league goals away from home this season and prior to their defeat against Arsenal last weekend was their first in nine games. It’s not going to be easy for Jose Mourinho’s XI but Chelsea need a positive result here as they don’t want to start a busy December schedule off the pace.
My Chelsea XI for today would be:
C. Azpilicueta – G. Cahill – J. Terry (c) – A. Cole
Ramires – J. Mikel
Willian – J. Mata – E. Hazard
But I’m expecting Mourinho to go for:
B. Ivanovic – G. Cahill – J. Terry (c) – C. Azpilicueta
Ramires – F. Lampard
J. Mata – Oscar – E. Hazard
Mourinho has already said that he’ll have to make full use of the squad over a congested fixture list and has even admitted that he made a few errors on Tuesday night. The Portuguese manager also conceded that perhaps it’s far too much to ask Frank Lampard to play two full 90 minutes a week as he has done this season and it’s hurt the midfielder’s game as he’s often looked jaded.
Chelsea need a strong performance today and a good result. The squad has often struggled to string a number of good results together so far this season and doesn’t want to be slipping too far behind the leaders if we’re serious about challenging for the title, so it’s time to act like a Premier League winning outfit.
What are your score predictions for today’s match?