After their 2-0 victory against West Ham, the Blues will have an important game to play away at Southampton.
Jose Mourinho would be hoping to end the year as league leaders with current champions Manchester City lurking behind with a 3 point gap in between.
Let us analyze our next opponents in our Opposition Scouting Report:
THE TEAM AND THE RECENT FORM
Southampton’s home ground since 2001 has been St.Mary’s Stadium, before which they were based at The Dell. The club has been nicknamed “The Saints” since its inception in 1885 due to its history as a church football team, founded as St Mary’s Church of England Young Men’s Association.
The club has won the FA Cup once, way back in 1976 and their highest ever league finish was second in the First Division in 1983-84 season. The club returned to the Premier League in 2012-13 after they were relegated in 2005 ending 27 successive seasons of top-division football for the club.
Southampton secured their second straight victory and have broken into the top four once again. Just a month ago, much to the surprise of most fans, Southampton were sitting second in the Premier League table. The Saints had a difficult period thereafter losing 4 consecutive matches, but have regained their confidence after defeating Everton 3-0 at home and Crystal Palace 1-3 away.
After 18 matches the Saints have 32 points having won 10, lost 6, and drawn 2. Graziano Pellè sits 5th on the Premier League top scorers list with 8 goals; Ronald Koeman would be unhappy missing out on Ryan Bertrand, who is on loan from the Blues and is ineligible to play against his parent club.
FORMATION AND STYLE OF PLAY
This is the Saint’s first with Dutch manager Ronald Koeman, who replaced Mauricio Pochettino after the Argentine joined Tottenham Hotspur in May. The Club after selling their star players like Luke Shaw, Ricky Lambert, Adam Lallana, and Calum Chambers have roped in new guns like Serbian midfielder Dusan Tadic and Italian Granziano Pelle which has brought in a change in the style of play.
The Saints are stronger than ever at home. Their last home game ended in a 3-0 victory against Everton. It came after a 4 match winless streak in the Premier League. Ronald Koeman would opt for the 5-4-1 formation after their win at Selhurst Park, keeping in mind that Jose Mourinho’s team would be dictating the terms on the pitch.
Southampton are known to break quickly on the counter with their pace and quality. The Saints have punished opponents in the past for minor mistakes and will be hoping that Mourinho’s Blue Boys falter.
STRENGTH – Their Defense
The Saints’ rearguard is the second best in the Premier League, with only Chelsea above their 14 goals conceded so far. They have kept six clean sheets in their nine home games this season. Goalkeeper Forster has been immense for Southampton. They have a settled back four and defend as a team, limiting the opposition’s opportunity. Southampton have faced the second-fewest number of shots in the league this season (91) and the fewest shots on target (24; or an average of 2.2 per match).
The Saints might have a problem offensively as most of the passes go towards Pelle which might turn out to be predictable and the Blues would comfortably mark Pelle throughout the game. Ryan Bertrand has been significant for the Saints but with him sitting this one out, the Saints find themselves lacking a good left back.
Graziano Pelle had a great start to the season but has slumped in form recently and with Tadic’s lack of finishing skills, Southampton have a real task at hand up front.
HEAD TO HEAD
Southampton and Chelsea have faced each other in 63 games overall; with the Blues winning 29 and Southampton with 18, having settled for a draw on 16 occasions.
The Saints would be happy with a single point considering the pace at which Chelsea are winning their games. Mourinho on the other hand will have to earn the 3 points from a team who can match his defensive standards . Fatigue will play an important role in both teams but with the depth Chelsea has, it’s difficult for the Saints to keep the league leaders silent for a long time.
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Edited By: Ojas Tripathi