Chelsea will be looking to bounce back from their 1-0 defeat to Basel in the Champions League clash in midweek, when they welcome high-flying Southampton to Stamford Bridge in the Premier League on Sunday.
The Blues have failed to get off to a good start this season, and are currently seven points below early leaders Arsenal in the league, though the Gunners have played an extra game. Jose Mourinho's men have also been far from convincing in their relatively easy Champions League group, with Basel completing the double against them on Tuesday night.
Chelsea even failed to register a shot on target against the Swiss side in that tie. The west London outfit is on a poor run of form, winning just two of their last five matches, and Mourinho is now set to make several changes to his starting lineup against seventh-placed Southampton, managed by the impressive Mauricio Pochettino.
"When you finish your first season you are much better prepared to understand the needs and the profile of your purchases. He [Pochettino] had the possibility this summer to buy adapted to his needs and this is important. He chose well. The team is very compact, is very solid and they are doing very, very well," Mourinho pointed out.
"The team is very, very good and for sure they will have a very good season and for sure the match on Sunday will be a difficult match for us. Normally it would be even more difficult for them," he added.
Southampton, on the other hand, are enjoying a sensational start to their league season. And though the Saints have fallen down from third to seventh, after last week's 2-0 loss to leaders Arsenal at the Emirates, they are still only two points below third-placed Chelsea and can overtake the Blues, with a win at Stamford Bridge on Sunday; something 12th-placed West Bromwich Albion nearly managed earlier this month.
Saints boss Pochettino, a former Espanyol manager, knows all about Mourinho during their time in Spain and is an admirer of the Portuguese tactician. However, he revealed that his team would not be overwhelmed by Chelsea on the field today, as Southampton look to come back with a positive result from the Bridge.
"I'm happy to be facing Jose Mourinho in England, and not in Spain. It's clear that you learn from everyone, but I've learnt a lot from Jose. We get along very well. I have a great admiration and respect for him as a football manager and as a person and it will be great to say hello to him on Sunday and to have the game against him," Pochettino stressed.
"I think he's one of the best managers in football history. His record speaks for itself. We have a very good relationship, but at the same time while before and after the games we will be friends, during the full 90 minutes we're not going to be friends, we're just going to be rivals, opponents," the Argentine said.
Chelsea: Samuel Eto'o, who was stretchered off with a groin injury against Basel, has been sidelined, with Fernando Torres set to replace him. David Luiz (knee) and Tomas Kalas (leg) are also unavailable, while Marco van Ginkel (knee) remains a long-term absentee.
Southampton: Pochettino will be without Guly do Prado, who is undergoing a knee operation, and Jack Cork (ankle). However, both Dejan Lovren (illness) and Gaston Ramirez (late return from international duty) who missed the Arsenal game are back in contention. Meanwhile, Luke Shaw (thigh) has a late fitness test.
Where to Watch Live
The game is scheduled for a 9.30 pm IST start on Sunday, with live coverage on Star Sports 4 and Star Sports HD2. You can also catch the match via live streaming by clicking HERE. To watch the action in the U.S., click HERE. To live stream it in the U.K., click HERE. Viewers in the Middle East and North Africa can click HERE.
Chelsea: Cech; Ivanovic, Cahill, Terry, Azpilicueta; Mikel, Lampard; Ramires, Oscar, Hazard; Torres
Southampton: Boruc; Clyne, Fonte, Lovren, Shaw; Schneiderlin, Wanyama; Ward-Prowse, Lallana, Rodriguez; Lambert