After easily dispatching Manchester City in the FA Cup at home, the Blues will travel to St. Mary’s Stadium to take on Southampton. The Saints currently sit in 6th place, just a point behind Manchester United. Chelsea remain in 12th, two points behind Everton in 11th.
Manchester City posed a weak test for the Chelsea, as the Sky Blues elected to start mostly youngsters, and poor performing senior players. Hiddink’s men claimed much of the possession, created plenty of chances, and it could be argued that the scoreline could have been even larger than the 5-1 final.
Southampton are nothing, if they’re not extremely resilient. The Saints have not lost since January 9th in the FA Cup against Crystal Palace. While many would argue that Chelsea have been just as resilient, the Saints have won almost all of their matches during this time. Chelsea cannot say the same.
At the back, they are compact, with a strong defense including former Chelsea Champions League winner, Ryan Bertrand. Fraser Forster’s return from injury has certainly given them a boost between the sticks. The Saints are tough to break down, strong, gritty, and successful at how they operate.
Chelsea on the other hand have also been reaching better form. Despite, their loss to PSG in the Champions League, the Blues are on a very good run, with several positives to be taken from the Parc De Princes. Hiddink’s men look much more creative, with a more free-flowing attack and a committed defensive effort, especially given their injuries in that position.
All things considered, the Blues will not have an easy test at St. Mary’s this weekend. However, I believe they will take all three points. Chelsea will demand more possession than we’ve seen of them for much of this season. Eden Hazard showed positive signs against City of getting back to his old self.
The Belgian will be key in the Blues attack. Furthermore, Pedro seems to be playing well, and the Spaniard must continue his run of good form. Finally, Diego Costa should continue his goal-scoring run. He seems almost un-markable at the moment and Southampton’s backs will have their hands full.
Overall, a Chelsea victory would be vital to their season. With Everton’s match against Liverpool postponed due to the Capital One Cup final, the Blues can move ahead with a win. While Southampton are playing quite well, I predict the Chelsea will get the better of the Saints at St. Mary’s.
Predicted Score: Chelsea 2, Southampton 0
Predicted Goalscorers: Diego Costa, Eden Hazard
Predicted Lineup: Courtois, Azpilicueta, Cahill, Ivanovic, Baba Rahman, Matic, Fabregas, Pedro, Willian, Hazard, Diego Costa.