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Chelsea 3 v 1 Southampton
Barclays Premier League
Saturday, 2nd October 2021 Kick-off 15:00
Southampton At Chelsea The Preview
Friday, 1st Oct 2021 09:35

Saints travel to West London to take on Chelsea in the first of two meetings scheduled between the clubs at Stamford bridge in October, can they replicate the form that they showed in their last away game at Manchester City.

Saints travel to Chelsea with some confidence after a solid if not spectacular start to the season that has shown they are a hard side to beat, but the worry is that they have yet to win in six Premier League games.

Ralph Hasenhuttl has a full squad to pick from aside from long term casualty Jack Stephens and also Armando Broja who being on loan from the Blues cannot play against his parent club.

This means that in many respects the line up and formation will be quite easy to predict, or will it ? Hasenhuttl has shown this season that he is not afraid of making changes, although some of those changes have been hard to fathom at some points.

In goal Alex McCarthy hasn't done much wrong in the past few games after a shaky start to the season, in the centre of defence the only real choice is Jan Bednarek and Mohammed Salisu, surely even Ralph wouldn't throw in Lyanco for his debut against Chelsea !

But the first question of the day revolves around the full backs, we now have an abundance of riches in those positions, in the second half of last season we had only two options, now we have five including new signing Thierry Small and Yan Valery.

Most Saints fans would like to see Kyle Walker Peters restored to right back with Tino Livramento playing on front of him with Romain Perraud playing in the left back spot.

Ralph so far has resisted this and more of that in a few lines time.

In the centre of midfield James Ward Prowse and Oriol Romeu are cast iron picks, it could be argued that they haven't created enough yet, especially JWP, but they have had some tough battles in the Premier League so far which have been more about protecting the back four and stopping other teams playing, this has meant we haven't conceded much so far, but we have paid a price going forward.

Up front it looks like Adam Armstrong and Che Adams with Broja unavailable.

So back to the question of who should play in the wide positions, the fans want to see Livramento played in one of those roles and I can see their point, the truth is that so far no one has made either of the wide midfield positions their own, Redmond, Djenepo, Elyounoussi and Walcott have all played there, but none have truly made themselves undroppable.

This is a tough game we need to do something different, playing Livramento on the right side would improve things in two areas, firstly he is naturally more a defender than an attacker, so can provide cover against a good side, secondly he is a player that has pace and can drive forward and run at players, yes so can the others, but Livramento more than others seems to have an end product.

So for me at Stamford Bridge he is the ideal player for this position.

On the other side and I'm assuming here that unless there is something that we don't know about Stuart Armstrong's absence, there is no way he can spend two months without playing a game and be ready to start a match after only a week's training.

That being the case then I would play Nathan Redmond, he more than any other player has actually had an end product that has created good chances a la his two passes at Newcastle that both resulted in goals, albeit the second from the resulting penalty and also the ball at Manchester City where he put Adam Armstrong one on one with the keeper.

Redmond has his critics and some of that criticism is justified, but he still gets an end product more than any of our other options, he should just be doing it more often.

This is of course assuming that Ralph opts for a 4-4-2 formation and this is the one area we cannot be sure of, there are plenty of other options including bringing in Ibrahima Diallo in a three man midfield and playing only one striker.

So we can go to Chelsea with some confidence that we can give them a game as we did in both games last season and now we have more options.

But we do have to start scoring goals, there is a feeling starting to creep in that if we had Danny Ings then perhaps we would have grabbed a goal or two more and turned a couple of draws into wins and that would have given us a good start rather than average.

But Ings is gone and we have to look to what we have, the issue to be truthful isn't the scoring power of Armstrong or Adams up front, it is about getting service to them, they have both hit a period where they just can't seem to get a goal, they aren't missing glaring chances, they have just been thwarted by good saves and near misses, they have both shown they can sore goals in the Premier league, they both work hard and that hard work will pay off.

This will be a tough game, Chelsea have made a good start and sit 3rd only a point off leaders Liverpool, but they are not infallible and have shown they can drop points, they come into the game a little out of form, a 1-0 defeat at Juventus came from a lack of concentration in the 11th second of the second half and that cost them the game in the Champions league, before that a 1-0 defeat at home to Manchester City in the League and a 1-1 draw at home to Villa in the League which saw then need penalties to go through.

This could be a dangerous time to play them, Coach Tuchel will be livid at this winless streak and will be making sure that they don't fall down again, but they have injury problems, Pulisic and Mount have missed the last few games and N Golo 'Kante has Covid 19 and it is unclear whether any other members of Chelsea's squad will have to self isolate.

You would still expect Chelsea to win this game, but we have said that the last three visits to Stamford Bridge and left unbeaten, we also had the same thoughts for the trip to Manchester City.

We get this game out of the way and we can start to play teams we can beat, the sooner the better.

Photo: Action Images

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felly1 added 11:39 - Oct 1
Decent preview Nick. I would have to say Che was very poor against Wolves and the few half chances he got he misfired in front of goal, the lack of creativity coming from the centre mids and wide players is worrying and it must be affecting the confidence of our forwards. Let's hope we are firing on all cylinders and catch ££££Chelsea££££ on an off day.

JoeEgg added 11:55 - Oct 1
There is no way Chelsea will lose three on the bounce! So bit of light relief - I hear Ronald Koeman could be available soon................!!!!

davidargyll added 18:53 - Oct 1
I don’t think our strikers can be criticised for lack of effort. And equally I think it is a little unfair to conclude that if you keeping having shots on target which don’t get through you are aurptomatically no good. I therefore maintain that if our lads up front keep banging then in the right direction sooner or later they will score. And if it’s against Chelsea, so much the better.

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