Chelsea face Southampton away at St Mary’s on Saturday, the visitors looking to make continue their steady improvements under Thomas Tuchel.
Here’s all you need to know about Saturday’s meeting:
Southampton – LLLWL
After having topped the table at one stage of the season, things have just begun to fall apart for Ralph Hassenhuttl’s side, gaining an unwanted club record of six successive league defeats since their last win over Liverpool on January 4th.
While they have won three FA Cup ties in that time, it has done little to cover up their poor league form, the Saints having slipped to 13th despite having been in the battle for the top six not so long ago.
In truth, they haven’t had much luck of late, their latest defeat against Wolves seeing their opponents awarded a penalty for an incredibly harsh handball decision against defender Ryan Bertrand.
The resulting spot-kick saw Ruben Neves fire home, with Nuno Espirito Santo’s men going on to snatch all three points through Pedro Neto, after Danny Ings had initially put his side ahead with a spectacular volleyed effort.
The loss also came at a further cost, as Kyle Walker-Peters was forced off late on through injury, leaving Hassenhuttl with even fewer options than he already has.
Chelsea – WWWWW
It’s not been particularly expansive nor exciting for Chelsea in recent weeks, but it has been effective, the Blues winning five of their six games in all competitions since Thomas Tuchel’s arrival, while they’ve conceded just once in that time – and even that was an own goal.
The switch to a back three appears to have paid off, with both Callum Hudson-Odoi and Marcos Alonso flourishing at wing-back, the latter having been a key part of Antonio Conte’s title-winning side as a left wing-back.
Their latest win saw them put in an impressive first-half display at Stamford Bridge to see off Newcastle United, with goals from Olivier Giroud and Timo Werner firing Tuchel’s men back into the top four.
Werner’s scruffy finish ended a run of 1000 minutes or 14 games without a goal and will no doubt breathe new confidence into a player that has looked way below his usual standards for much of the season.
While the German international unsurprisingly grabbed the headlines, the other major story was the return of the formerly outcast Kepa Arrizabalaga, the Spaniard handed his first league start since the 3-3 draw with Southampton on 17 October.
Despite him having kept a clean sheet, Tuchel is likely to bring back Edouard Mendy in between the sticks, while Thiago Silva could make his return from injury. Fellow summer signing Kai Havertz could also be in contention again, although Tammy Abraham will likely miss out after limping off on Monday night.
Chelsea 3-3 Southampton, 17 October 2020
Neutrals will be hoping for more of the same when the two sides meet this weekend, after a pulsating encounter in the reverse fixture.
The Blues raced into a 2-0 lead inside 30 minutes, Timo Werner netting a brilliant brace, before Danny Ings rounded Kepa to give his side hope just before half-time.
The Spaniard was then at fault not long after the interval, failing to deal with a poor back bass from Kurt Zouma, with Che Adams the beneficiary. The hosts regained their lead just 121 seconds later, Werner this time turning provider to tee up compatriot Kai Havertz, who duly slotted home.
Unfortunately for then-boss, Frank Lampard, the drama was not over there, as Jannick Vestergaard headed home from Theo Walcott’s drilled effort in the 92nd minute to snatch a Premier League point for the Saints.
Southampton: McCarthy; Stephens, Vestergaard, Bednarek, Bertrand; Armstrong, Romeu, Ward-Prowse, Redmond; Adams, Ings.
Chelsea: Mendy; Silva, Rudiger, Azpilicueta; Hudson-Odoi, Kovacic, Jorginho, Alonso; Werner, Giroud, Mount.
Who is the referee?
How can I watch?
UK and Irish readers can watch the match on BT Sport.
What time is kick off?
Saturday 20 February, 12:30 GMT
Southampton – 4/1
Draw – 14/5
Chelsea – 7/10