A night to forget for the players, manager and Chelsea fans all over the world after Paris Saint-Germain outsmarted the Blues with 10 men in London. Chelsea are now out of the Champions League and the FA Cup as well.
The schedule till the end of the season will include just eleven more games. After the two hour duel with PSG, a mentally wounded Chelsea will look to bounce back on Sunday, when they face Southampton F.C. at the Bridge.
Let’s take a detailed look at our opponents:
The History of the team:
Southampton, nicknamed ‘The Saints’ are based in the city of Southampton, Hampshire. The Saints’ 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. They were relegated from the Premier League on May 15, 2005; ending 27 successive seasons of top-division football for the club. The club eventually returned to the Premier League after a 7-year absence and have been playing there since the 2012–13 season.
Southampton’s attacking force isn’t what it used to be in the first half of this season, due to which the Saints have suffered a bit of a dip in form and the goals have dried up somewhat. Koeman’s team have slipped to seventh in the league, their lowest position since August and have managed just two goals in their last six games. However, they were successful in ending the three game drought without a win or even a goal, when they played Crystal Palace at home on March 4, 2015.
Southampton will be lining up in the 4-2-3-1 formation. Graziano Pellè leads the line with his eight goals this season and Toby Alderweireld is set to return to action. Ryan Bertrand will be facing his former employers after his January exit. Wanyama and Schneiderlin will be playing alongside each other in midfield.
Form in the Premier League: L-W-D-L-L-W
Unlike Jose Mourinho, Saints boss Ronald Koeman has had a long time to prepare for this upcoming fixture. Emmanuel Mayuka is still sidelined for the Saints after his groin injury and has barely featured this season, Toby Alderweireld is set to make his first appearance in nine weeks after picking up a hamstring injury. Jay Rodriguez who picked up a knee injury will remain absent.
Strength – Key Player
Ryan Bertrand: Termed as the dark horse of this young gifted Southampton team, the ex Chelsea Left-Back has a lot to prove to his former employers. Jose Mourinho could not find room for Bertrand in his star-studded squad and was evidently unmoved by the Englishman’s impressive first six months at St Mary’s. Sold to Southampton for £ 10 Million in January, the Southampton left-back has been brilliant for his team.
Bertrand has improved himself as a player; his pace has significantly improved and can bombard the box with accurate crosses. The Englishman is also an integral part of the defense, back paddling when required to help out the center backs, one of the reasons the Saints have the best defensive records in the Premier League this season. He has been a perfect fit for Ronald Koeman’s improved Southampton squad wanting to hit the European Glory next season. The left-back is certainly a player to watch out for, when the Saints visit Stamford Bridge.
Ronald Koeman’s problems lay upfront. The Saints have reached their lowest position since August, winning only two of their last seven and losing four during this run. In the recent months the Saints are going through a goal drought, with just one solitary Sadio Mane strike to their name in their last six outings.
Italian striker Pelle has failed to add to his tally of eight league goals since December. Their attack seems to have derailed through the second half of this season, something Ronald Koeman would be working throughout the long break before this fixture.
Head to Head:
Chelsea have lost just one of their last 11 Premier League games against Southampton (W6, D4).
Southampton are without a win in five trips to Stamford Bridge (D2, L3). Their last victory was 13 years ago, James Beattie with two goals in a 4-2 triumph.
The Blues have scored in each of their last nine league matches against the Saints.
Southampton have conceded just 10 away league goals, five fewer than any other team.
Ronald Koeman’s side have taken only seven points from a possible 27 against the six clubs above them in the league table.
Neither goalkeeper made a save when these two teams drew 1-1 at St Mary’s back in December.
Ronald Koeman has certainly taken some confidence that Jose Mourinho’s team aren’t infallible, they are capable of making mistakes and being defeated at home. On the other hand a recently ousted Jose Mourinho side could be about as dangerous as it gets, the Saints would be up facing a motivated Chelsea squad after their loss to PSG, a squad raring to go, prove a point to the world why they are the Premier League leaders.
With Nemanja Matic back after serving his two-game suspension, the Blues will yet again have a strong midfield and will be looking to strengthen their grip on the Premier League title. For Ronald Koeman and his young Southampton squad this perhaps could be the most difficult fixture throughout this season.
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Edited By: Harshal Ahire