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Football News: Southampton v Chelsea 14 April 2018 Preview

Southampton v Chelsea 14 April 2018 Preview
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Southampton = DDLLL
Chelsea = LLWLD
Reverse fixture Chelsea 1-0 Saints.

So here we are, another weekend looms and another big game for Southampton. If they can get anything from this match, it really could be a wonderful catalyst going into the next phase of premier league games against teams outside the top 6. But two league games under new manager Mark Hughes has seen two defeats and 3 goals conceded in each game. Chelsea have struggled since the turn of the year, only picking up 12 points since 1st January. They've had notable slip-ups against inferior teams like Crystal Palace and West Ham, the latter they dropped points against both home and away. But they have predominantly struggled against the teams above them which has left them 10 points adrift of the top four.

Against Arsenal, the team's performance was much better. Aside from scoring twice, we looked to have a good degree of fight about us and didn't give up until the final whistle. Yes, it was a weakened Arsenal side, but Welbeck played very well and as he showed again last night against CSKA Moscow, when Arsenal are struggling he or someone else has the capacity to do something from relatively little. We deserved a draw and were unlucky but that game is gone and now we face another toughie. There are plenty of individuals in this Chelsea team capable of repeating Welbeck's performance.

My hope is that the team will be inspired by that performance last weekend and with MH's first home fixture and the home crowd behind them, everyone will raise their game. We shouldn't need to rely on individuals as the whole team must be pulling together and working their socks off if we are to get anything, not only from this game but from the remainder of the season.

Davis is still out after getting injured a week ago and Stephens is suspended so the two big questions for MH will be over formation and personnel. We looked stronger in a 3-4-2-1 against Arsenal but less so when we switched to 4-4-2 for the last quarter of the game. We also played in a 4-4-2 against West Ham so I hope not to see it again unless something drastic changes. Questions remain over the performances of players like Bertrand and Tadic, the former in relation to attitude, the latter in relation to confidence. If Hughes opts for three central defenders, then he could try Bertrand there or we could even see a gamble on Jan Bednarek. Sam McQueen is fit so is a possible attacking option as a left wing-back.

Chelsea won't catch the top 4 so they will be desperate to cling on to Europa League football and that means finishing where they are in 5th spot. Arsenal sit in 6th only three points behind them. They cannot let their league form falter enough to let Arsenal overtake them. So with an FA Cup final a real possibility, Conte has quite the dilemma, but I suspect if given the choice between winning the FA Cup or finishing 5th, Chelsea would take the latter. If they can take both, all the better but with Spurs or Manchester United in the FA Cup final, both who are playing well at the moment, success there is less assured given Chelsea's season to date.

With two winnable games this week, we may see Chelsea play their strongest team now and rotate next weekend. Or, if Conte saw a weakened Arsenal win last week, he may consider that rotating tomorrow is a worthwhile risk in order to have his strongest team fit for the tough Burnley fixture. We'll have to wait and see.

Chelsea have struggled with their formation this term as Morata has struggled in his first full season. This has lead to Hazard playing as the focal point in attack which is not Conte's preferred shape, nor Chelsea's strongest. When they have 4 at the back, Chelsea have looked far less comfortable than with wingbacks. Hazard and Willian are their key players and if they're playing and up for it, the Saints defence could have a busy afternoon.

If the football is drab, at least we can all be entertained by the ever-flamboyant Mike Dean who will be looking to steal the show. Expect eye rolls, shrugs and any cards to branded with a flourish. let's hope that we have more luck than last week with the officials overseeing the game.

Written by figodasilva April 13 2018 11:45:16