Southampton come into this game on a good run of Premier League form as they are unbeaten in their last five outings with three of those resulting in victories. After a slow start under the stewardship of Claude Puel it’s fair to say that The Saints are finding their stride.
This afternoon they play host to a Chelsea side who visit the South Coast off the back of an impressive 4-0 win over Manchester United last weekend. That win at Stamford Bridge was a third straight win for Antonio Conte’s men and they will be looking to make it four later today.
Last Sunday saw Southampton travel to The Etihad and they came away with a well earned point. Their goal may have had an element of fortune after John Stones’ misplaced pass let in Nathan Redmond to open the scoring but The Saints were good value for the draw and came away with a point that was nothing short of deserved.
The two sides saw differing fortunes in the EFL Cup in midweek as Chelsea lost out to local rivals West Ham at The London Stadium while Southampton edged out Premier League basement side Sunderland thanks to a first goal from summer signing Sofaine Boufal.
You could argue as to whether or not Chelsea were taking the competition all that seriously and they probably won’t be all that fussed as to whether they are still in it but with the Premier League reward being so much greater then you can understand why Wednesday’s local derby wasn’t top priority.
What will be top priority is winning the title and if not then certainly finishing in the top four, after a run of three games without a win it’s very apparent that Conte has stumbled across somewhat of a masterstroke to revive their fortunes
And that masterstroke is playing three at the back. This change of formation has almost transformed Chelsea’s approach over the night as they have gone on to win their last three games since the drubbing to Arsenal at The Emirates as Conte looks to setup his Chelsea side in the same way that his other previous sides were.
The make of the backline is now Luiz, Cahill and Cesar Azpulicueta being moved inside and replacing the aging legs of Branislav Ivanovic. With Marcos Alonso a £25m signing from Fiorentina occuping a wing back berth and surprisingly Victor Moses on the other side.
With this setup and the shield of N’Golo Kante and Nemanja Matic in front then Manchester United couldn’t handle with Chelsea. Not only that but this new setup has undone the defensive shackles of Eden Hazard to great effect as we saw when he scored Chelsea’s third on Sunday.
With three wins in a row with this system then there will be little reason to change today so it looks as if once again John Terry will have to make do with a spot on the bench. But as the well known saying goes ‘if it ain’t broke, then don’t fix it’
Southampton will look to break it but I think Chelsea’s run of form and more importantly wins will be the deciding factor here. I think it will be tight but I imagine Antonio Conte will get the better of Claude Puel later today and it will be a fourth straight win for The Blues.
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