Chelsea vs. Southampton
Venue: Stamford Bridge
Kick off: 3PM
Chelsea welcome Southampton to Stamford Bridge this afternoon as Premier League football returns after the international break.
Just one point separates the two sides in the table after four games of the season, and both teams head into this contest off the back of victories before the two-week stoppage.
It has been a topsy-turvy start to the season for Chelsea, who go into this weekend sitting seventh in the table with seven points to their name – already five points adrift of early pace-setters Everton.
Frank Lampard will be feeling a lot better about his side’s chances following their 4-0 victory over Crystal Palace before the international break as the unlikely trio of Ben Chilwell, Kurt Zouma and Jorginho (twice) got on the scoresheet.
Four goals in a game is always a welcome sight, but in what was their first league outing since the 3-3 draw with West Bromwich Albion it was arguably the clean sheet which would have pleased Lampard the most as new signing Edouard Mendy brought about an immediate improvement.
The summer arrival was admittedly rarely tested, though, and he will not feature in this match after picking up an injury on international duty with Senegal, which could mean a swift recall for the under-fire Kepa Arrizabalaga.
Surprisingly, though, no team involved in both of the last two Premier League campaigns has conceded fewer home goals than Chelsea since the start of last season, underpinning a good run of form at Stamford Bridge recently.
The Blues may have lost eight times at home across all competitions last season, and they have already been beaten there by Liverpool this term, but they go into Saturday’s match having won seven of their last eight league games on their own patch by an aggregate scoreline of 18-4.
Indeed, Chelsea have kept clean sheets in five of their last six home outings across all competitions and have won their last two by a 10-0 aggregate score, although Southampton have every reason to be confident of blemishing that recent record.
The Saints won at Stamford Bridge last season – their only triumph in their last nine top-flight meetings with Chelsea – and could now win back-to-back league games away to Chelsea for the first time since March 1985.
Successive victories to nil before the international break suggest that they have the means to do exactly that, with triumphs over Burnley and West Brom getting Southampton off the mark after a false start.
Not since January 2016 have the Saints won three successive Premier League matches without conceding, and doing so would be the perfect reaction to their 5-2 home defeat at the hands of Tottenham Hotspur last month.
Ralph Hasenhuttl’s side have now won six and lost only two of their last 11 top-flight outings, and last season in particular they carved out a reputation as away specialists.
Indeed, their opening-day loss at the hands of Crystal Palace is their only Premier League away defeat since February, so if Chelsea happen to have one eye on their Champions League opener against Sevilla on Wednesday then an upset could be in the offing.
Chelsea possible XI: Kepa, Azpilicueta, Christensen, Zouma, Chilwell, Jorginho, Kovacic, Mount, Havertz, Pulisic, Werner.
Southampton possible XI: McCarthy, Walker-Peters, Bednarek, Vestergaard, Bertrand, Walcott, Ward-Prowse, Romeu, Redmond;, Ings, Adams.