Dec 16, 2017 at 3pm UK at ​Stamford Bridge
Attendance: 41,562
Alonso (45')
FT(HT: 1-0)

Preview: Chelsea vs. Southampton - prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole provides predicted lineups, team news and a full match preview of the Premier League clash between Chelsea and Southampton.

Chelsea play host to Southampton in the Premier League on Saturday afternoon having established a four-point cushion in third place with a 3-1 victory over Huddersfield Town.

Southampton make the trip to Stamford Bridge still sitting in 11th position in the standings, despite suffering a 4-1 defeat at the hands of Leicester City on Wednesday night.


Antonio Conte gives instructions during the Premier League game between Liverpool and Chelsea on November 25, 2017© Offside

With Liverpool, Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal all dropping points in recent weeks, Chelsea have been able to give themselves some breathing space in third place but Antonio Conte will not be prepared to settle for playing second fiddle to the Manchester clubs.

Leaders City are unlikely to be caught but the Italian was quick to claim that his side are on "a good path" after producing a professional performance to beat Huddersfield in midweek.

The win was Chelsea's seventh in nine league games - a run which is only bettered by City - and Conte will expect that to become eight in 10 against an inconsistent Southampton side.

The fitness of Alvaro Morata will be a concern, but with the likes of Willian, Pedro and Eden Hazard firing on all cylinders, there appears little need to rush the club's top goalscorer back into action.

Tiemoue Bakayoko has become a hot topic for debate since his arrival from Monaco, but Conte was quick to praise the Frenchman for his showing at the John Smith's Stadium and Blues fans can expect the midfielder to feature regularly alongside N'Golo Kante in the centre of the park.

Clean sheets have started to dry up for Chelsea, with just one being recorded in their last five league fixtures, but it has been eight matches since the West Londoners conceded more than one goal in domestic action and they are going to win the majority of their games if they can maintain that record in the coming weeks.

Recent form: WDWWLW
Recent form (all competitions): DWWDLW


Mauricio Pellegrino observes the action during the Premier League game between Southampton and Watford on September 9, 2017© SilverHub

Since Ronald Koeman left for Everton in the summer of 2016, Southampton supporters have had to deal with frequent ups and downs on the pitch and that has been no different in their last two fixtures.

When the Saints led for much of last weekend's game with Arsenal, many felt that Mauricio Pellegrino was starting to make his mark at St Mary's but a late equaliser for the Gunners was followed by a demoralising 4-1 defeat to Leicester City, who are managed by former boss Claude Puel.

The Frenchman was undervalued on the south coast but with five wins coming from his first eight games in charge of the Foxes, Southampton supporters are perhaps beginning to see that maybe the problem at the club is not with who sits in the dugout.

Southampton possess a strong squad but it has now been 18 months since more than a few players performed to their maximum on a consistent basis, and Charlie Austin can not be expected to net the majority of the goals in the final third.

Pellegrino's side have only scored more than one goal in a league match on three occasions this season and with only one clean sheet coming in their last 12 outings, drastic improvements need to be made at both ends of the pitch.

They may look comfortable in 11th position in the standings, but just four points separate Southampton from 18th-placed Crystal Palace and with Chelsea, Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester United all to come in their next four matches, this is a hugely important period for a team who would have expected to be challenging for a Europa League spot.

Recent form: LWLDDL

Team News

Alvaro Morata complains during the Premier League game between Chelsea and Manchester United on November 5, 2017© Offside

Conte has a decision to make over Morata, who was rested for the trip to Yorkshire due to fatigue and a sore back.

If the Spaniard remains sidelined, Michy Batshuayi could be given a rare start, while Cesc Fabregas is also expected to return to the first XI.

Gary Cahill is in line to start with Antonio Rudiger potentially dropping out, but David Luiz is again likely to be sidelined with an ongoing knee problem.

Pellegrino has revealed that he has a fully-fit squad for the trip to West London, with Cedric Soares having made a successful return against Leicester.

James Ward-Prowse and Nathan Redmond are both in contention to come back into the side after dropping down to the bench in midweek.

Manolo Gabbiadini could replace Austin, who played for 90 minutes on Wednesday after a hard-working performance against Arsenal in his previous match.

Chelsea possible starting lineup:
Courtois; Azpilicueta, Christensen, Cahill; Zappacosta, Kante, Bakayoko, Alonso; Fabregas, Hazard; Morata

Southampton possible starting lineup:
Forster; Soares, Van Dijk, Yoshida, Bertrand; Romeu, Lemina, Ward-Prowse; Redmond, Tadic, Gabbiadini

Head To Head

Saturday's match will represent the 100th meeting between the two sides, with Chelsea claiming 41 victories in comparison to 30 wins for the Saints.

Southampton have enjoyed some success in recent matches, with two triumphs and three draws coming from their last 10 games against the Blues in all competitions.

However, Chelsea have won the last three, with the most recent contest in April ending in a 4-2 success thanks to goals from Hazard, Cahill and Diego Costa.

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We say: Chelsea 4-1 Southampton

Chelsea may not have been that ruthless at Stamford Bridge this season, but Southampton appear to be there for the taking on Saturday. Their draw with Arsenal has been forgotten and the Blues will hope to take advantage with a dominant showing in front of their own supporters.

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Who will win Saturday's Premier League clash between Chelsea and Southampton?

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