Chelsea welcome Southampton to Stamford Bridge for both team’s first fixture of 2019 on Wednesday afternoon.
Both sides will be looking to kickstart their new year with a smile as they each hunt for three points for different reasons. The Blues will be looking to stay close to the pack above them, securing their place in the top four, whilst the Saints look to keep climbing away from the relegation zone.
The league table suggests that it will be an incredible struggle for the travellers, however Southampton have already proved that they shouldn’t be completely written off against any side.
Where to Watch
|When Is Kick Off?||Wednesday 2 January|
|What Time Is Kick Off?||19:45 (BST)|
|Where Is it Played?||Stamford Bridge|
|TV Channel/ Live Stream?||Gillette Soccer Special (Sky Sports News)|
Olivier Giroud sustained an injury against Crystal Palace on Sunday and therefore will be ruled out for the match, paving the way for Alvaro Morata to lead the line should Maurizio Sarri not play Eden Hazard through the middle.
The Blues will still be without Pedro who will remain sidelined due to a hamstring injury as well as youngster Callum Hudson-Odoi.
Following the Blues’ win at Crystal Palace, Sarri revealed Cesc Fabregas, Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Danny Drinkwater were nursing injuries, and it’s unclear whether any of those three will feature in the match-day squad.
Meanwhile Southampton will be without Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg who picked up a straight red card in the 3-1 defeat to Manchester City on Sunday.
There may be a return for Cedric back to the starting lineup should Hassenhuttl deem him to be fit to start.
|Chelsea||Arrizabalaga; Azpilicueta, Rudiger, Luiz, Alonso; Jorginho, Kante, Kovacic; Hazard, Morata, Willian.|
|Southampton||McCarthy; Valery, Stephens, Bednarek, Targett; Ward Prowse, Romeu, Lemina, Armstrong, Elyounoussi; Austin.|
Head to Head Record
Wednesday’s clash will be the 104th competitive fixture between the two sides, with Chelsea coming out on top 45 times and Southampton winning 30. However, the Saints have failed to beat the Blues in their last seven attempts, conceding 17 goals.
When the two sides met back in October, the Blues won 3-0 with goals from Hazard, Barkley and Morata. Barkley provided the spectators with a brilliant performance, teeing up the first for Hazard before he netted a neat finish to help wrap up maximum points for Sarri’s side.
The Blues’ recent victories have helped them keep up the pressure on the likes of Manchester City and Tottenham, however Sarri will be assertively telling his players that Wednesday’s fixture will be no walk in the park, as Chelsea’s last home match ended with a shock 1-0 defeat to Leicester.
Since Hassenhuttl arrived at St Mary’s their fortunes looked to have turned around, with wins against Arsenal and Huddersfield. However, the new boss will be trying everything he can to avoid three consecutive defeats following back-to-back home losses to West Ham and Manchester City.
Here’s how each team fared in their last five games:
|Crystal Palace 0-1 Chelsea (30/12)||Southampton 1-3 Manchester City (30/12)|
|Watford 1-2 Chelsea (26/12)||Southampton 1-2 West Ham (27/12)|
|Chelsea 0-1 Leicester City (22/12)||Huddersfield Town 1-3 Southampton (22/12)|
|Brighton 1-2 Chelsea (16/12)||Southampton 3-2 Arsenal (16/12)|
|Chelsea 2-0 Manchester City (8/12)||Cardiff City 1-0 Southampton (8/12)|
There’s no doubt that Southampton have improved under their new manager, showing more solidarity at the back and having the ability to nick the odd goal. However, Chelsea will be doing all they can to avoid the humiliation of back-to-back home defeats and if they can provide their talisman Hazard with the service then it will be too much for the Saints’ defence.
Prediction: Chelsea 2-0 Southampton
Global Express News