Chelsea will be looking to return to winning ways after a couple of slip-ups when they take on mid-table Southampton at St Mary’s Stadium on Saturday.
Thomas Tuchel’s men are on the verge of exiting the Champions League following a thumping 3-1 home defeat to Real Madrid in the first leg of their quarter-final tie.
A disheartening European evening at Stamford Bridge followed up an embarrassing 4-1 home Premier League defeat to bottom-half Brentford last time out.
Southampton are not performing any better, though last weekend’s 1-1 draw away to Leeds United at least brought their three-game losing league streak to a halt.
But the Saints need to start winning if they were to strengthen their bid to land a top-half Premier League finish for the first time since the 2016/17 season.
Southampton’s hopes of achieving their first Premier League triumph since February look rather slim, given that they have only won one of their last 12 top-flight meetings with Chelsea (D3, L8).
Playing at home would normally bolster the Saints’ chances of inflicting another upset on Chelsea, but Ralph Hasenhuttl’s men have lost back-to-back home league matches in the build-up to this fixture.
Despite Southampton’s rotten form, the St Mary’s crowd could be in for a treat as each of the Saints’ last four competitive games here have seen both teams scoring in matches garnering 3+ total goals.
The abovementioned defeat to Brentford means Chelsea could lose consecutive Premier League outings for the first time during Tuchel’s managerial reign.
However, excluding their triumphant 2021 FIFA Club World Cup campaign, the Blues have won their last six away matches across all competitions, including three successive victories in the Premier League.
Additionally, the Londoners have lost just once in their previous 13 top-flight visits to St Mary’s (W9, D3) and are unbeaten in the last eight in a row since a 2-1 reverse in 2013.
Armando Broja’s loan agreement rules him out of this fixture, yet Lyanco and Alex McCarthy have returned to training following their lengthy spells on the sidelines.
Ben Chilwell is the only definite absentee in the Chelsea squad, while Tuchel hopes to have Hakim Ziyech back to full fitness to link up with Kai Havertz and Christian Pulisic up top.
Southampton Potential Starting XI
(4-3-3): Fraser Forster; Tino Livramento, Mohammed Salisu, Jan Bednarek, Kyle Walker-Peters; James Ward-Prowse, Oriol Romeu, Ibrahima Diallo; Stuart Armstrong; Che Adams, Adam Armstrong.
Chelsea Potential Starting XI
(3-4-3): Edouard Mendy; Andreas Christensen, Thiago Silva, Antonio Rudiger; Cesar Azpilicueta, Mateo Kovacic, Jorginho, Marcos Alonso; Hakim Ziyech, Kai Havertz, Christian Pulisic.
Southampton vs Chelsea Prediction
Chelsea will be out to get back to winning ways following back-to-back dire showings, while Southampton will hope to overcome a sticky patch and give the home support something to shout about.
But without their main attacking threat in Broja and ongoing defensive woes, the Saints could involuntarily provide the Blues with a perfect opportunity to bolster their confidence ahead of the return leg in Madrid.
Southampton 1-2 Chelsea
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