St Mary’s - Premier League
Two teams seemingly in free fall meet each other in Saturday’s early kick-off, as Southampton welcome Chelsea to St Mary’s. The threat of relegation is looming large over the Saints, while the Champions League seems to have gone for Antonio Conte’s Blues.
Chelsea have won their last four games against Southampton, including a 1-0 victory at Stamford Bridge earlier this season. The Blues have won 2-0 and 2-1 on their last two visits to St Mary’s, with the Saints’ last home success against Chelsea coming almost exactly five years ago.
Jack Stephens is suspended for the home team after his red card in injury time at the end of Southampton’s defeat at Arsenal on Sunday. Mario Lemina is a slight doubt after an illness, while Sam McQueen, Steven Davis and Shane Long are all expected to miss out.
Ross Barkley’s fitness problems continue for Chelsea, who are also without David Luiz and Ethan Ampadu at the moment. Davide Zappacosta is rated as 50/50 with a muscular injury, but apart from that Conte has a fully fit squad to choose from.
Southampton v Chelsea Preview and Predictions
This game will serve as a dress rehearsal for next weekend’s FA Cup semi-final at Wembley. While Chelsea will probably view the cup game as their only hope of salvaging something from an awful season, Southampton will be scrapping for their lives on in this game on Saturday lunchtime.
The late defeat at Arsenal was heartbreaking for Mark Hughes’ side after the character they showed to get themselves back in the game. There’s plenty of encouragement to take from the match though, not least in seeing Charlie Austin bag his first goal since December after returning from injury.
Saints still sit in the bottom three though, three points behind 17th-placed Crystal Palace albeit with a game in hand. they are priced as the 18/5 outsiders to give their survival hopes a major boost against the outgoing Premier League champions.
Chelsea meanwhile are available at 9/10, which is a very generous price on the face of it. The defending champions usually have shorter odds when pitching up at a relegation candidate, but Conte’s side have unravelled over recent weeks. The Blues are now 10 points behind Tottenham in fourth and consigned to next season’s Europa League. If you think this game will end in a draw, that’s 11/4.
Chelsea to win and both teams to score at 31/10
The Blues haven’t kept a clean sheet since they shut out Championship side Hull in the FA Cup nine games ago. The hosts will have a go but Chelsea are the favourites.
Southampton to win 2-1 at 15/1
This was the scoreline the last time the Saints gave Chelsea the blues at St Mary’s, and it’d be a huge result for Hughes’ side as they bid to beat the drop. Add Austin as the first scorer and the odds increase to 50/1.