Tuesday night’s 19:45 Premier League kick-off sees Chelsea make the trip to St. Mary’s to take on Ralph Hassenhuttl’s hit and miss Southampton side.
Chelsea also find themselves in the midst of some polarising results, with their defence suffering six goals in the first four games, having conceded in all but one of their fixtures this season, Thomas Tuchel will be looking for a professional response from his side who were fortunate to take all three points last time out.
Amidst an injury crisis in midfield, the German boss has a lot to ponder going into this fixture.
Though the return of Kalidou Koulibaly will come as a nice boost for the boss who claimed on Monday that he had been impressed with the 31-year-old’s quality thus far.
“He will play at Southampton, he will be on the pitch, he’s a massive player for us.
“I already see him emerging as a leader. He’s a fantastic player, a fantastic personality, and I’m so happy with what I see, how he behaves, how he trains.
“I see a lot of quality and everything that is needed to be a leading figure at Chelsea.”
In terms of his midfield crisis, the Chelsea boss said:
“It’s the area where normally I would love to have a headache who plays and who is on the bench. I thought we could have five players who could all play for us, and have on top Carney as an option as a young player.
“The headache before the season was ‘do we have too many players there?’. It comes to the fifth game and we have only two left with experience in this position, and Kova from the bench. At the moment he’s not ready to play full matches at Premier League level. He has only had one week of training after his injury.
“It’s a strange situation and one we don’t like. It’s like this and we will have something to think about – or maybe not because it’s so obvious who we have left!”
Late breaking news:
As per Simon Phillips on Twitter, Reece James has not travelled with the squad and will not be risked against Southampton.
Phillips took to his personal Twitter page to issue the update just a few hours before the game:
“Reece James won’t be risked tonight (precautionary, not serious). Billy Gilmour has traveled with the squad!”
CFC Predicted XI vs Southampton
With all things considered, here is the line-up that we expect Tuchel to deploy in the must-win clash against Southampton:
Koulibaly, Silva, Cucurella,
Azpilicueta, Loftus-Cheek, Jorginho, Chilwell,
Our predicted XI sees three changes amidst a return back to the 3-4-2-1 system that has become synonymous with the Stamford Bridge outfit under Tuchel.
With Gallagher suspended, having picked up a red card last time out, a formation change sees Koulibaly take his place as the side revert to a back three.
Out-wide, we expect Ben Chilwell, the £190k-per-week “machine”, as dubbed by Mark Worrall on Twitter last season – when the English international found himself in divine form in front of goal – to finally get his chance to stake his claim on the side, with Cucurella shifting into left centre-back as he did so often for Brighton last season.
Finally, veteran defender Cesar Azpilicueta is expected to start ahead of Reece James who has not travelled with this squad.