Once upon a time, and not so long ago this fixture would have pitted top (Chelsea) against bottom (Southampton) and would have seen a humbling defeat for Southampton. This season however, 3rd (Chelsea) will play fifth (Southampton) in a top of the table clash.
Southampton, under new manager Mauricio Pochettino are under going some sort of renaissance, reliving their glory days from the early 1980’s when they knew what life at the top was all about. Many believe Southampton should enjoy it while it lasts. Despite having a very good victory against Liverpool and holding Manchester Utd to a 2-2 draw, they have yet to face the in-form teams. But they are about to come thick and fast, first up Chelsea, followed by Manchester City and Tottenham over the Christmas period, (although given Tottenham’s mauling at the hands of Manchester City last weekend, it is debatable whether Tottenham can be classed as “inform”). But the point is, whether it is possible for Southampton to maintain their amazing form and justify their fifth place position – if they can’t they had fun while it lasted, and one things for certain they will not be facing relegation this season.
Chelsea are a strange team this season, one minute they are playing beautiful attacking football, and the next they are wandering around the pitch as if they have been asleep for one hundred years. With the squad they have a victory against Southampton should not be in question. But this season it will be hard to predict who will play and what mood they will be in when they take to the field, and to add to the drama, they are fast running out of striking options and are starting to struggle in front of goal. Given we are nearly half way through the season, Chelsea need to start finding some level of consistency and fast if there is to be any hope of the blues having a fairy tale ending to their season.
Mauricio Pochettino’s side will travel to the capital with confidence, but who knows what they will find when they get there. It will either be Chelsea with the dominant midfield or a Chelsea team that has their minds on their Christmas shopping. Either way it should be a good game.
Venue: Stamford Bridge, Sunday, December 1st
Last season’s result: Chelsea 2 Southampton 2
Chelsea form guide: WDLWWW
Southampton form guide: LWDWDL
Chelsea leading scorer: Oscar 5
Southampton leading scorer: Lambert 4
Probable Team Line Ups –
Chelsea injuries: Eto’o (groin, 14 Dec), Van Ginkel (knee, Apr),
Manager: José Mourinho
Southampton injuries: Cork (ankle, unknown), Do Prado (knee, Jan)
Manager: Mauricio Pochettino
Prediction: Chelsea 2 Southampton 1
Chelsea vs Southampton Probable starters in bold, contenders in light. Photograph: Graphic (Guardian.co.uk))