Jose Mourinho has played down concerns over Chelsea’s dismal defeat to Basel in midweek and suggested that inconsistency in performances is inevitable with the inexperienced squad at his disposal. Despite having secured their place in the Champions League knockout phase, Chelsea regressed substantially in Switzerland from the display that beat West Ham 3-0 just three days earlier. Yet, ahead of the visit of Southampton on Sunday, Mourinho explained that he is content with the team’s position at this early stage of his second spell in charge at Stamford Bridge.
“We still have some more work to do tomorrow and hopefully on Sunday we will be ready,” he said, according to Chelsea’s official website. “If I forget the performance from our last match the situation is fine. We are close to the league leaders, we have qualified for the last 16 in the Champions League and we are in the quarter-finals of the Capital One Cup.
“Of course I didn't like the performance [against Basel], but I have to live with it, especially in a team without years and years to work together, or without enough maturity to keep that stability match after match, and with some fatigue added. We will try everything not to repeat it.”
The biggest area of criticism for Chelsea has been their options up front. Fernando Torres, Samuel Eto’o and Demba Ba have scored just three Premier League goals between them this season, sparking criticism of the decision to allow Romelu Lukaku to leave on loan and speculation that a striker will be recruited in January. Mourinho, though, has declared that his current front men will remain unaltered for the remainder of the campaign, while also suggesting that there are unsaid reasons behind Lukaku’s move to Everton.
Chelsea are unlikely to have an easy time of things on Sunday when they take on a Southampton side just two points behind them in the Premier League table. Saints coach Mauricio Pochettino knows Mourinho well from his matches against Real Madrid during his spell in charge of Espanyol. The Argentine suffered defeat to Mourinho on each of their four meetings in Spain, but he has belief that Southampton can end Mourinho’s long unbeaten run as Chelsea manager at Stamford Bridge.
“We know that they have lost very few games at Stamford Bridge and that their record there is amazing, so we are fully aware that we are going to be facing a very tough side,” he said, according to Southampton’s official website. “It will be a tough game but we go there with the right mentality.”
Southampton suffered a setback last time out when a much-replayed error from Artur Boruc gifted league leaders Arsenal the opening goal in their 2-0 win. There is good news, though, with Luke Shaw having recovered from a dead leg that forced him off at half time at the Emirates. Jack Cork and Gaston Ramirez are set to return to the squad, while Guly do Prado and Kelvin Davis are ruled out.
Chelsea will be without both Eto’o and David Luiz through injury.
Where to watch: The Barclays Premier League match will kick off at Stamford Bridge at 11.10 a.m. ET. Coverage will be provided by the NBC Sports Network, with a live stream available on NBC Sports Live Extra.