After the excitement of games that matter — European glory and FA Cup magic — we now turn our attentions to games that don't. Sure, they matter in an academic sense, especially for Southampton who are in fact fighting for a European spot (just one point behind Manchester United at the start of the weekend), but as far as the 12th-placed Champions of England are concerned, all we've got left to look forward to is possibly a top-half of the table finish.
But, unlike Pellegrini in the FA Cup, we can't just wave the white flag and concede the rest of the way. We need a few more wins before relegation can be ruled out, so until then, we must go, fight, win, etc, etc, etc.
Grind out a point here and I'll be happy.
Date / Time: Saturday, February 27, 2016, 15:00 GMT; 10am EST; 8:30pm IST
Venue: St Mary's Stadium, Southampton, England
Referee: Martin Atkinson — This will be Atkinson's fourth Chelsea match of the season already; we failed to win any of the previous three, losing 3-0 at Manchester City, drawing 2-2 at Newcastle and 0-0 at Manchester United. We sure do love draws (we're tied for 3rd in the league with 9).
Forecast: Cold & windy.
On TV: none (UK); Premier League Extra Time (USA); Star Sports 4 / HD 4 (India); elsewhere
Live streaming: NBC Sports Live Extra, NBC Deports En Vivo Extra (USA); Star Sports (India); Absolute Radio (UK radio); Chelsea TV, talkSport (int'l radio)
Southampton team news: A couple months back, Southampton's season was threatening to derail in rather spectacular fashion — their Chelsea-esque November-December "bad moment" saw them lose 8 of 10 in all competitions. But, as if flipping a switch (i.e. Fraser Forster's return to fitness), they have won 5 of 6 since mid-January, and without even conceding a goal. In fact, Forster, who's quite possibly the best English goalkeeper out there at the moment, is 34 minutes shy of the club record for consecutive minutes without conceding a goal.
Saints are fairly healthy, but will have to make do without the midfield presence of Victor Wanyama. The Premier League's disciplinary table leader (5 yellows, 3 reds) is, unsurprisingly, suspended. Former Chelsea hopeful Oriol Romeu should get the start. For more on Southampton and Ronald Koeman's tactics, be sure to check out our opposition analysis.
View from the enemy: St. Mary's Musings
Chelsea team news: Our supposedly happy-go-lucky people of great confidence and vigor are unbeaten in 10 straight league matches, but while the 5-1 against Newcastle sure was impressive, that streak still includes more draws than wins. Better than nothing, I suppose. And since the emphasis has in fact been on the knockout competitions, we've been feeling rather better about the whole situation.
With the injury and availability situation unchanged for the past couple weeks — Terry, Zouma out; Pato, Falcao not fit — Hiddink is expected to stick with the lineup that has shown plenty of promise and attacking impetus against both PSG and Manchester City. It'll be a stern test, to be sure, even with the likes of Cesc, Eden, Diego, Pedro, etc. firing on most (all?) cylinders.
Previously: Chelsea's 3-1 loss at the Bridge in the reverse fixture earlier this season means that Southampton are now unbeaten in three straight against the Blues.