Chelsea begin 2019 at Stamford Bridge against a Southampton team that have a new manager and also need points.
Southampton find themselves just outside of the relegation zone with 15 points and dismissed their former manager Mark Hughes at the start of December.
Ralph Hasenhuttl was appointed as Hughes’ replacement, but their results have still been a bit of a mixed bag. The former manager of Red Bull Leipzig has been in charge of five matches so far recording two wins and just 6 points from a possible 15, though one of those wins was against Arsenal.
But Southampton remain stuck in a relegation fight, and while their recent results at Stamford Bridge have not been good, Saints will hope for a reversal of fortune against a Chelsea team that’s been inconsistent as of late and might well be a bit vulnerable.
The injury bug has bit Chelsea. Pedro and Callum Hudson-Odoi both missed the last match against Crystal Palace with hamstring injuries. Pedro will remain sidelined for Wednesday’s match, while Hudson-Odoi may recover in time.
Those two were joined on the injury list by Olivier Giroud who suffered an ankle injury on Sunday, limiting Maurizio Sarri’s options in attack. Alvaro Morata came on in place of Giroud and will likely start on Wednesday amidst all sorts of rumours about his departure and the arrival of another striker.
But if Southampton’s style of play under Hasenhuttl continues, then Chelsea’s stuttering attack might find some chances. Southampton have adopted a system with more pressing, and Chelsea have done far better against teams that play that way than teams that sit deep and defend as Palace did at the weekend.
With Tottenham and Arsenal both winning on Tuesday, the pressure is on Chelsea to win against Southampton to maintain the five-point gap over Arsenal that they enjoyed before this round of fixtures and to remain in touching distance of third-place Spurs.
Defeat would put more pressure on Chelsea to deliver their objective of finishing in the top four, and the knives may once again start coming out for Sarri as manager.