Southampton host Chelsea in the FA Cup and will be confident to eliminate the defending champions from the tournament.
What : Southampton v Chelsea, 3rd Round F.A. Cup
Where: St Mary’s Stadium, Southampton, England
When: Saturday, Jan. 5
Time : 15:00 GMT
Just when people thought things have finally gotten better for Chelsea and that their season could be back on the right track, they came up with that performance against QPR. In a poor game at Stamford Bridge in which both the teams were equally bad, Chelsea lost to their bitter rivals QPR who are still in the bottom of the table.
On the other hand, Southampton, newly promoted to the Premier League this season, are having a very poor season and are one of the favorites to be eliminated back to the second division.
With Chelsea likely to field in another inexperienced team, we could be in for another poor game and the winner could be determined by more of an error rather than the brilliance of a player.
The Saints were very good in their last league game against Arsenal and will be disappointed not to have taken all 3 points from the game. If they can bring in a similar game on Saturday, then a shock could well be on the cards.
Southampton could rest striker Rickie Lambert following the hectic festive schedule. Lambert has 8 goals for them so far in the season.
But playmaker Gaston Ramirez may keep his spot in the first team. He has adapted very well to the Premier League style and should be their main threat.
Left back Luke Shaw who had a good game against the Gunners and Jason Puncheon will be other key players for The Saints.
However, the Southampton backline is quite leaky. In the Premier League alone, they have conceded 38 goals already.
Possible starting lineup :
Clyne,Yoshida, Fonte, Shaw,
Cork, Schneiderlin, Davis, Puncheon;
Chelsea may feel that they were on the wrong side of the result in their 1-0 loss at home to Queen’s Park Rangers on Wednesday in a fiercely contested West London derby.
A combination of wayward finishing and an excellent performance from QPR’s Brazilian goalkeeper Julio Cesar prevented them from getting the goals.
The defeat to QPR ended the hopes of an unlikely title challenge. Such hopes can now, surely, be put to rest, with 14 points separating the Blues from league leaders Manchester United.
Chelsea’s best chance of silverware will, then, come in cup competitions. They have the first leg of their Capital One Cup semi-final against Swansea coming up next Wednesday and a Europa League campaign to look forward to. But first comes the defence of the FA Cup.
Benitez rested Ashley Cole, Eden Hazard,Ramires and Juan Mata from the start on Wednesday and all four could be on line for a start on Saturday. Jon Obi Mikel may also be in contention if his recovery from a knee injury progresses as expected.
Luiz could go back to his original center back position partnering Cahill and Ivanovich will probably get a much needed rest.
Piazon should start this game after Torres continues to fail.
Possible starting lineup :
Ivanovic, Cahill, Luiz, Cole;
Prediction : 3-0 to Chelsea.
The Blues will definitely bounce back after that loss to QPR and their attack force will be too strong for Southampton’s defence to handle.