It’s been barely 48 hours since our blue army took to the pitch to dispatch West Ham United but the complexities of the festive fixtures mean that we go again to St. Marys’ to tackle this season’s surprise package, Southampton. It is an understatement to say that the Saints have performed far above expectation considering that they lost almost all their key players over the summer. They sit in fourth position with a good shout at having at least Europa League football next season. Although they hit a snag a while back recording their worst streak of defeats in the 21st century, they could be said to be having a resurgence with two wins in their last two games, scoring six and conceding just once.
Chelsea on the other hand have continued their recovery from the first loss of the season at Newcastle United and are looking to widen the gap between themselves & City. The game also pits José Mourinho against one of his old colleagues from his time with LG at Barcelona.
Ryan Bertrand, on loan from Chelsea is not eligible to face his parent club while Jose Fonte could be recalled to the starting eleven. Matt Targett could be set to replace Bertrand while Dusan Tadic, Victor Wanyama and Shane Long could also return to the starting XI after starting from the bench against Crystal Palace. Long term absentee, Jay Rodriguez as well as former Chelsea youth player, Jack Cork and Sam Gallagher both having knee complaints are out.
Chelsea have a fully fit squad to pick from, José may however be looking to rotate the team having played just over 48 hours ago and also facing another two games within the next seven days so Didier Drogba, Andre Schurlle, John Obi Mikel and Felipe Luis could be brought into the starting XI.
The Saints have kept five clean sheets in their last nine home games but the Blues will be looking to maintain a record of scoring at the St. Marys’ having scored on their last nine visits scoring more than once on six occasions. Southampton will be looking to Shane Long for inspiration as he has scored in three of his last four premier league starts against Chelsea while Graziano Pelle will be a threat with seven goals in eight games at the St. Marys’. In Cesc Fabregas, Chelsea have perhaps the best man to load the ammunition for their forwards having become only the third player in premier league history to rack up double digits in assists for five separate seasons.
It’s honours even between both teams as festive fixtures between both team have produced two wins a piece and two draws with six goals scored in the last five games between both teams at St. Marys’ within the festive period.
Southampton are getting back to form after having hit a rough patch And Chelsea would be looking to keenly examine their confidence level. Chelsea may have a few players jaded with their busy schedule over the festive period and the Saints are always a threat on their home turf but I am backing Chelsea to edge this one.
Southampton 1 – 2 Chelsea