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Predicted Chelsea lineup against Southampton: Branislav Ivanovic set to start

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Chelsea have a fever, and the only prescription is more Branislav Ivanovic.

Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images

Following his comments at Friday's press conference, it seems entirely obvious to me that Jose Mourinho will retain Branislav Ivanovic in the starting lineup for tomorrow's crucial match against Southampton.  Not that I really expected otherwise; Baba Rahman has apparently done very little to convince the manager, be that in training or in his limited match action.  Right or wrong, it seems that we're set to continue with the Ivanovic & Azpilicueta full back pairing, just as we've done for the vast majority of the past couple years.

I do think we're going to make a change in the defensive setup however, considering that the two mistakes Mourinho pointed out midweek were both on set piece marking.  Add in the fact that we're playing at home and against a big strong striker in Graziano Pelle, and I think John Terry will be restored.  Whether it's Cahill or Zouma who drops to the bench isn't quite clear, but I have a hunch that it may be the former.  Terry-Zouma may not technically be our best pairing, but it's tough to have much confidence in the rickety and error-prone defense as it is.  Perhaps Terry's return will boost the levels of organization and concentration a bit.

Further up the pitch, it's even more of a crapshoot.  Eden Hazard and Cesc Fabregas seem shoo-ins, while Falcao might get another shot at leading the line after Remy failed to impress at Newcastle.  Unless there's something incredibly wrong, Oscar should be restored to his usual no.10 role, while out of all of our right wingers, only Willian seems to have any idea whatsoever of what he's doing lately.  And since this is shaping up to be a rather familiar lineup, we might as well plug Nemanja Matic back in where he belongs.

After all, if we are to accomplish anything worthwhile this season, these are the players we will need to perform.  Otherwise, like Mourinho said earlier this week, we might as well just play the kids and get ready for some better future.  Though as always, we're all just fumbling in the dark.

Predicted lineup:

Begovic | Azpilicueta, Terry, Zouma, Ivanovic | Matic, Fabregas | Hazard, Oscar, Willian | Falcao

In the community voting, the preferred lineup is almost exactly the same.  Special shout out to the Ivanovic Underground Revolution, which gathered a little over 10% of the vote.

Begovic | Baba, Terry, Zouma, Azpilicueta | Matic, Fabregas/Ramires (too close to call) | Hazard, Oscar, Willian | Falcao

At the time of writing, Fabregas and Ramires are separated by four (4!) votes, while both Zouma and Falcao are leading Cahill and Remy, respectively by just one or two percentage points.  Tough decisions abound.