If last week was a hangover match, what do we call this one? The draw against West Ham more or less eradicated whatever faint hope Chelsea might have been nursing for the top four. All that’s left is playing for pride and, maybe, next season.
If there’s an opponent Chelsea should beat, though, it’s Southampton. (Of course, we said that about Watford and Bournemouth too.) In their five Premier League matches at St. Mary’s in 2018, the Saints are winless, with three draws and two losses. In their last six Prem matches overall they’re also winless, with two draws and four losses. That’s why they’re deep in relegation trouble and why Chelsea should brush them aside. They have shipped twelve goals in their last six league contests, they can be had.
There’s also the small matter of the FA Cup semifinal against this same opposition next weekend. This then is the appetizer, and it would sure be a good time for all those chances Chelsea have been creating to start actually going in.
Date / Time: Saturday, April 14th, 2018, 12:30 BST; 7:30am EDT; 5:00pm IST
Venue: St. Mary’s Stadium, Southampton, England
Referee: Mike Dean — this man has been refereeing Premier League matches since 2000. With that much exposure, it’s little wonder that dedicated observers have strong opinions about him. He’s not shy about flourishing the yellow card — he even has a ten-card match under his belt this season, improbably between two teams that like to play, Bournemouth and Manchester City. His incumbency more or less coincides with Chelsea’s ascendancy and his record with us reflects that. In the 65 Chelsea games he’s whistled (the most for any referee ever, and it’s not even close), we’ve won 42, drawn 13 and lost 10. This season we have two wins and a baffling loss (Watford.) The picture is much more grim for So’ton — in 14 home matches under Dean’s supervision they have a mere 2 wins, with 7 draws and 5 losses.
Forecast: It’s likely to be dry, with a light overcast and pleasantly mild. Temps should be around 17°C (60°F), winds 9 km/h (5 mph). The chance of rain is 25%.
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Chelsea team news: David Luiz has been working with a ball this week, but there’s been no suggestion that his knee is healthy enough for him to be an option. Ethan Ampadu is out, of course, with a broken ankle. Other than that, Conte should have his full squad to choose from.
View from the enemy: St. Mary’s Musings
Southampton team news: Northern Ireland captain Steven Davis, midfielder, is out with an Achilles strain. Centre back Jack Stephens is out after getting a straight red against Arsenal last week. (That also puts him out of the FA Cup semifinal as well.) Stephens is a loss, because Hughes played a back five against Arsenal and despite conceding three goals, might well have deployed it against Chelsea as well. Without Stephens, he will either have to switch systems or hand a Premier League debut to summer signing Jan Bednarek, just two days after his 21st birthday.
Last time: A 2-0 win at St. Mary’s last season, with Eden capitalizing on shocking defending for a nutmeg of Fraser Forster and Diego Costa bending in a beautiful shot from the edge of the area. And that was a So’ton team in the midst of a 12-match unbeaten run at home!