Preview: Southampton vs. Chelsea

Preview: Southampton vs. Chelsea

Chelsea will aim to avoid a third defeat on the bounce in all competitions when they travel to St Mary’s to face Southampton in Saturday’s Premier League contest.

Thomas Tuchel’s side fell to a 3-1 defeat in the first leg of their Champions League quarter-final to Real Madrid in midweek, while the Saints most recently drew 1-1 with Leeds United.

Where would Southampton be without James Ward-Prowse and his dead ball prowess? Seemingly heading for a fifth straight defeat in all competitions, Ralph Hasenhuttl’s side were up against it when Jack Harrison drew first blood for Leeds just before the half-hour mark.

However, with just four minutes gone in the second half, Ward-Prowse produced a typically sublime free kick to force a share of the spoils at Elland Road and finally end a worrying streak of losses for Southampton, who went through all of March without gleaning a single point.

Hasenhuttl’s side have endured quite the downturn in fortunes since their stellar period over the winter months, and just one point taken from the last 12 on offer in the Premier League sees them languish in 12th spot in the table – one point off a potential top-half finish.

Conceding nine goals in their last four games in the top flight highlights where the issues lie for the Saints, who despite being previously solid in front of their own fans have slumped to back-to-back home defeats to Watford and Newcastle United in the past few weeks.

On a brighter note, Hasenhuttl’s side have scored in each of their last 12 Premier League home games since drawing a blank against Wolverhampton Wanderers in September, and if the past week is anything to go by, Chelsea’s defensive discipline is not what it used to be.

Having already destroyed one team in blue with his clinical hat-trick versus Paris Saint-Germain, Real Madrid veteran Karim Benzema continues to age like a fine wine and repeated his three-goal showing at Stamford Bridge to leave Chelsea’s Champions League defence in tatters.

A pair of brilliant headers from the Frenchman preceded a response from Kai Havertz before the half-time whistle blew, but Benzema soon restored Los Blancos’ two-goal cushion after a calamitous error from the normally-reliable Edouard Mendy.

Failing to respond after a dampening 4-1 loss to Brentford in the Premier League has just led to a hint of uncertainty creeping in surrounding Chelsea’s third-placed standing in the Premier League, but Tuchel’s side remain five points clear of Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur for the time being.

All eyes will be on the Blues’ response at the Santiago Bernabeu next Tuesday before an FA Cup semi-final showdown with Crystal Palace, but winning each of their last six games away from home in all competitions at least sets them up well for a trip down south.

Chelsea needed penalties to overcome Southampton in the EFL Cup earlier this season, but they won 3-1 at Stamford Bridge in the Premier League and have lost just one of their last 14 with the Saints in all tournaments.

Southampton Premier League form:
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Southampton form (all competitions):
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Chelsea Premier League form:
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Chelsea form (all competitions):
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We say: Southampton 1-3 Chelsea
Chelsea are certainly in a sticky patch both on and off the pitch right now, but their plentiful options for change, penchant for away-day victories and desperate need to respond ahead of the second leg with Real should all work in their favour here.

Keeping the back door shut has been an issue for Southampton recently, and with a key attacking threat in Broja ineligible to face his parent club, we have faith in a freshened-up Blues side to lay down a marker with a convincing return to winning ways.

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