Less than 48 hours after the final whistle against 4th place West Ham, Chelsea will kick off against 4th place Southampton. There aren't many things one can truly accomplish in 48 hours, but apparently rest, recovery, travel, and a couple training sessions have all been squeezed into it by Chelsea. How will that affect that squad's condition, motivation, and determination? That is the key question.
Last month, Southampton ran into a series of matches against Manchester City, Arsenal, and Manchester United. They lost all three and dropped out of the top 4. Reeling, they went on to lose a couple more, including getting upset in the League Cup by third tier Sheffield United. But after back-to-back victories over the past week, they're back in fourth and seemingly back on the right track. In a fun factoid, Southampton have yet to lose any points form a winning position, having won all 10 of their Premier League games in which they've taken a lead. An early goal, as has been our style, would not go amiss.
With City getting a cakewalk (and presumably a nice heaping of goal difference) at home against Burnley, another three points will not go amiss either. Just keep winning! Mourinho and Ronald Koeman can resume being friendly ex-colleagues afterwards.
Date / Time: Sunday, December 28, 14:05 GMT; 9:05am EST; 7:35pm IST
Venue: St. Mary's Stadium, Southampton, England
Referee: Anthony Taylor - Taylor takes charge of a Chelsea match for the second time in less than two months after overseeing our 2-1 win at Anfield in November. Overall, we've won 6 of 10 under the 36-year-old, losing twice.
Forecast: Cold, clear, dry. Perhaps even sunny.
On TV: Sky Sports 1 (UK); NBCSN (USA); Star Sports 4 / HD 2 (India)
Online: Sky Go (UK); NBC Sports Live Extra (USA); Star Sports (India)
Southampton Team News: New loan signing Eljero Elia won't join up until January 3rd. First choice left back and Chelsea loanee Ryan Bertrand is ineligible. Non-first choice midfielder and former Chelsea trainee Jack Cork is injured. Not easily categorized forward and all-around thorn in Chelsea's side Shane Long is fully fit and available for selection. Others on the injury list include Jay Rodriguez and Sam Gallagher. Key center back Jose Fonte is back from suspension, while most expect Dušan Tadić and Victor Wanyama to also start after being named just to the bench on Friday.
View From the Enemy: St. Mary's Musings
Chelsea Team News: All clear on the medical front. The only concern for José Mourinho is rotation, specifically whom and to what extent. In his pre-match comments, he mentioned having had to leave out Loïc Rémy, Mohamed Salah, and Nathan Aké completely against West Ham, though I doubt any of the three would get a start down on the South Coast. André Schürrle is probably in line for a start, but beyond that I'm not bold enough to hazard a guess at the lineup.
Previously: Since So'ton returned to the Premier League, Chelsea have won 3 of 5 against them in all competitions. Last season, we did the double over Saints, scoring three times both home and away. That away match turned out to be Juan Mata's last for the Blues. Incidentally, we started the calendar year of 2014 with a trip to St. Mary's and that's exactly how we're ending it as well.