Preview: Southampton v Chelsea

Southampton will be looking to maintain their impressive home form with a win against an Chelsea at the St Mary’s Stadium on Sunday.

Premier League
31 October 2016
Kick-off 00:00
Venue: St. Mary’s Stadium

Referee: M. Oliver
Assistants: M McDonough, E Smart
Fourth official: P. Tierney

Head-to-head summary:

Southampton 67 19 18 30
Chelsea 67 30 18 19

Previous encounter:

Southampton 1-2 Chelsea 11/02/15 (Premier League)

Southampton goalscorers: S. Long (42′)

Chelsea goalscorers: C. Fabregas (75′), B. Ivanovic (89′)

Players to watch:

Antonio Conte’s arrival at the club seems to have revived many of the Blues’ attacking players, with Eden Hazard and Diego Costa in particular impressing in their early season league outings.

Within a 3-4-3 formation the attacking duo have thrived with less defensive responsibility that has allowed much more creative freedom in the final third.

Hazard reeked havoc against Manchester United in the previous league game as Chelsea ran out 4-0 winners at Stamford Bridge, and will surely test Claude Puel’s defence this Sunday.

For the home side, defender Virgil van Dijk and goalkeeper Fraser Forster will be key if they are to sustain their impressive start to the Premier League campaign. The Saints have been defensively sound, conceding only three goals in their last 10 games across all competitions.

Team form and manager quotes:

Southampton come into the fixture brimming with confidence with their last home loss coming against Chelsea in February this year.

In the lead up to this match, Puel said: “It is a fantastic match for my players on Sunday. The most important thing is we play our game.

“We know they’re a great team with the capacity to perhaps win the title. It will be tough.”

The Blues’ midweek EFL Cup loss to West Ham dampened the mood of the camp slightly after three consecutive league wins without conceding, but Conte admits they are focused on getting a result against one of the top placed teams in the top-flight.

Antonio Conte joined in with the warm-up today! ⚽️ #CFC #Chelsea

A photo posted by Chelsea FC – Official (@chelseafc) on

“There are five teams who are very close but we shouldn’t look at the table, we must be focused on our work on the pitch”, Conte said.

“It’s too early to talk about the table or the title. We must improve game by game and trust in the work, that’s the most important thing.”

Team news:

Southampton winger Sofiane Boufal will be hopeful of starting against Chelsea after a goal-scoring debut in the EFL Cup while Jay Rodriguez, who suffered concussion in the win over Sunderland, is a doubt along with former Blues left-back Ryan Bertrand.

Cedric Soares, Matt Targett and Shane Long, meanwhile, are all still out, as is reserve keeper Alex McCarthy, who has a hamstring problem.

Chelsea will be without injured midfielder Cesc Fabregas while Kurt Zouma is getting closer to a return from a long-term knee injury after playing for the under 21’s in mid-week.