Chelsea have a chance to to put some pressure on second place Manchester City this Wednesday, as Southampton head to Stamford Bridge. The two sides faced off 11 days ago in the F.A Cup, with Chelsea trouncing the Saints 5-1 at St. Mary's.
Although winning the title has become somewhat of a pipe dream, Chelsea will have to win this game to keep their fledling hopes of a BPL victory alive. Despite showing some impressive perfomances away from home over the last month, the Blues have been subpar at the Bridge in recent weeks, losing to both Swansea and Queens Park Rangers.
Those two losses have renewed the animosity towards Rafael Benitez and struggling striker Fernando Torres by the Chelsea faithful, just when it seemed Rafa had quelled most of the dissent he was facing. It has turned Stamford Bridge into a venue filled with hostility, and it seems Chelsea have struggled to cope with it. Recently Benitez lauched a cheeky jab at the Chelsea faithful, stating that the club's real supporters want him to succeed, and it will be interesting to see how the supporters respond.
Southampton on the other hand are having a decent run of results recently, losing just one of their last six games in the league. Despite being one of bookies favourites to face relegation at the beginning of the season, the Saints are sitting prettily in 15th, and will hope their current form continues. However, Southampton have only managed two wins away from home in the League this season, a statistic that will have to be rectified if they want to stay in England's top tier.
The loss of Victor Moses and John Obi Mikel to the African Cup of Nations, Lucas Piazon out on loan to Malaga, as well as a weekend fixture against Arsenal will make things difficult for Benitez, however the return of John Terry will boost both the squad and supporters' morale. Rafa will have to juggle between resting players for Sunday's fixture as well as fielding a team that guarantees a win.
With talismanic midfielder Adam Lallana still injured along with Guilherme Do Prado and Jose Fonte, Southampton will have to dig deep to get any sort of result at the Bridge. Emmanuel Mayuka is also out of the squad due to the African Cup of Nations, so don't be surprised if Adkins fields a defensive minded team.
Chelsea F.C: WLWLW
Southampton F.C: DDDLW
Projected Team Lineups:
Chelsea: Cech; Azpilicueta, Terry, Cahill, Bertrand; Lamaprd, Luiz, Marin, Oscar, Hazard; Ba
Southampton: Boruc; Clyne, Hooiveld, Yoshida, Fox; Cork, Schneiderlin, Ramirez, Rodriguez, Puncheon; Lambert.
Despite poor form at home, Chelsea should be able to win this game comfortably – as long as they manage to contain Rickie Lambert. If Terry does start he will hope to have a better perfomance after his averge cameo against Stoke, where he gave away a cheap penalty five minutes after entering the fray. Southampton will have to deal with the Senegalese powehouse Demba Ba, who netted twice on his debut for the Blues the last time the two teams met. I predict a 3-1 win for Chelsea.
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