Ralph Hassenhuttl's Southampton hope to put a halt to both their miserable form and Thomas Tuchel's good start to life at Chelsea, as they welcome the Blues to St Mary's on Saturday lunchtime.
With Saints having lost six in a row in league competition, Chelsea understandably start the game as comfortable favourites, having won five of their six games since the former PSG manager took charge at Stamford Bridge.
The Blues haven’t looked particularly fearsome in doing so however, and Southampton have shown signs of improvement since THAT debacle at Old Trafford, and are getting some key players back from injury to boost their hopes.
Saints have four players definitely missing for the visit of Chelsea, with Theo Walcott, Kyle Walker-Peters, Will Smallbone and Michael Obafemi all injured, but Alex Jankewitz could return to the squad after suspension for his red card against Manchester United.
Jannik Vestergaard made a return from a knee injury against Wolves last week and should continue alongside Jan Bednarek at centre-back, with Mohamed Salisu also available. Takumi Minamino has looked bright since joining on loan from Liverpool and is likely to start again.
Chelsea have rotated heavily since Tuchel took over, with a 3-5-2 formation preferred by the German coach in most of his games so far. The strike partnership of Timo Werner and Olivier Giroud worked against Newcastle United last time out and should get the nod again, with Tammy Abraham not likely to play after suffering an ankle injury against the Magpies thanks to Jamaal Lascelles’ heavy tackle.
Tuchel will decide between Callum Hudson-Odoi and Reece James at right wing-back, with the former being preferred in games Chelsea are expected to dominate possession in, and James seeming to get picked when the opposition have more of a threat down the flank. It remains to be seen how highly Tuchel rates the impact of Nathan Redmond and Ryan Bertrand down Saints’ left side.
Kepa Arrizabalaga was surprisingly recalled to the side against Newcastle and recorded a confidence boosting clean sheet. It’s been confirmed that Edouard Mendy is still Chelsea’s number one keeper though, and he is likely to be back in the side at St Mary’s.
If Southampton can end their miserable run and claim a win, they could move above Wolves if they don’t win on Friday night against Leeds, while Chelsea will go just one point behind Leicester City in third if they extend their five game winning streak.
Southampton take on Chelsea at St Mary’s on Saturday, February 20th. Kick-off is at 12.30pm