Since Thomas Tuchel’s arrival, Chelsea’s performances and results have been efficient in reeling off five wins in a row. Southampton, on the other hand, can’t buy a win and the points should be returning to Stamford Bridge.
Six straight league defeats and one win in 11 underline Southampton’s drop in form. Their defence has been breached 14 times in the last three games, including a 9-0 demolition from Man United. Other than their shock victory over Liverpool in early January, Southampton’s only victories in their last 16 games have been against lowly Newcastle, Brighton and Sheffield United. The only glimmer of hope can come through Danny Ings, who scored in his last two games. He has joined Mo Salah, Jamie Vardy, Harry Kane and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang as the only players to score 30+ league goals since the start of last season. Southampton are in freefall and are clawing to stop this run of form, but it may continue against a strong Chelsea side. Defender Kyle Walker-Peters picked up a hamstring injury last time out and joins forwards Theo Walcott and Michael Obafemmi on the treatment table. Midfielder Ibrahima Diallo could make a comeback from injury. Alexandre Jankewitz is back from his suspension could return to the side in midfield.
Chelsea are unbeaten since Thomas Tuchel took over in late January. Following a debut draw with Wolves, there has been five straight victories in all competitions for the Blues. With Tuesday’s UEFA Champions League game with Atletico Madrid and some tougher games in the Premier League on the horizon, Chelsea will see this as a key game. Chelsea have only conceded one goal in their last 5 league games (in a 2-1 win over Sheffield United) and possession has been the name of the game. They’ve had between 58%-79% of the ball in Tuchel’s reign, which has also seen wins over Burnley 2-0, Tottenham 1-0, Barnsley 1-0 and Newcastle 2-0 on Monday. Goals from the dependable Olivier Giroud and Timo Werner, who ended his 14-game goal drought, sealed the points against Newcastle. Forward Tammy Abraham is out, but defender Thiago Silva and midfielder Kai Havertz could make a return to the Chelsea squad. Thomas Tuchel may make changes with one eye on the Champions League in midweek. Tuchel handed a first league start to out-of-favour goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga against Newcastle, and he is expected to keep his place.
Chelsea have the historical edge over Southampton, winning 46 and drawing 30 times in 105 games between the sides. Southampton have won 29 times. Chelsea have won just one of their last 4 games against Southampton, but they have triumphed on their last five trips to St Mary’s. Last time they faced each other was in a 3-3 draw at Stamford Bridge in October. Southampton clawed back a two-goal deficit and scored an injury time equalizer. Chelsea are in fine form and Southampton are in free-fall. It all points to a comfortable Chelsea win, although the threat of Danny Ings could lead to BTTS.
PREDICTION : CHELSEA 2-1 WIN
ACCUMULATOR TIP : CHELSEA FT WIN