Chelsea might have been ousted from the League Cup after their loss to West Ham a few days ago, but their form in the Premier League has been good of late. They have defeated teams like Hull City, defending champions Leicester City and Manchester United, and they will be keen to keep that winning momentum as they face Southampton at St. Mary's Stadium on Sunday.
Chelsea presently lie on fifth place, and they can climb to fourth position with a win, which would also mean that they will be a point away from the top of the table, which is presently held by Manchester City, Arsenal and Liverpool tied on 23 points. With the league expected to be tough this season, the Blues cannot afford any hiccup against any team in the competition as it can peg them down the order in the title race.
Chelsea have been successful playing the 3-4-3 formation with Gary Cahill, David Luiz and Cesar Azpilicueta as their back three, and that is not going to change against Southampton. They have quality players in all the departments with stars like N'golo Kante, Nemanja Matic marshalling the midfield. Manager Antonio Conte was all praise for the Kante.
"He is a complete midfielder, not only a defensive midfielder. He's a player who always arrives in the box and it's fantastic. He has fantastic stamina, and also good technique and good positional sense and good personality. He's a very good player," Chelsea's official website quoted Conte as saying.
"He plays box-to-box but I prefer [him]] to respect the position! I like when N'Golo goes to press in this system. I ask [my team] a lot to press and to go forward, and in this N'Golo is very good. He's playing very well and we are pleased to have him with us."
However, for goals, they will depend on Eden Hazard and Diego Costa, who have both been amazing this season, scoring goals for the club. Costa will be a regular threat against Southampton, who will need to come with a solid plan against their attacking duo.
Southampton might not have started the season like the way they would have hoped, but their recent determined performances against Manchester City and Leicester City, which ended in a draw will inspire them for better results on Sunday.
Southampton must be aware that they will be defending for majority of the match, but they will hope to play a counter-attacking brand of football against Chelsea. They have players such as Nathan Redmond and Charlie Austin, who have it in them to trouble Chelsea defenders, but for that they need ball on their feet.
With Chelsea expected to attack more, Southampton's Oriol Romeu will play an important role as a midfielder, and could prove to be a shield in front of his defenders. He has been good this season, and his manager Claude Paul spoke about his impressive skills.
"He's more technical. It's important because it's a part of the team and all the opponents try to make a good pressing, because every ball recovery on this play is dangerous for the team. It is important for this player to be a good technical player, to not lose the ball and to start the action with quality," Southampton's official website quoted Paul as saying.
Chelsea are favourites for this clash, but the home team will hope to stifle their opponents, and play some good offensive football to script a win.
Where to Watch Live
Southampton vs Chelsea is set to begin at 9.30pm IST, 4pm BST, 12 pm ET. Live Streaming and TV information is below.
India: TV: Star Sports 4 and Star Sports Select HD1. Live Streaming: Hotstar.
UK: TV: Sky SPorts 1. Live Streaming: Watch Sky Sports.
USA: TV: NBCSN. Live Streaming: NBC Sports Live.
Thailand, Middle East: TV: Bein Sports. Live Streaming: Bein Sports Connect.
Australia: TV: Optus Sport. Live Streaming: Optus Online.
Canada: TV: Sportsnet. Live Streaming: Watch Sportsnet.