Chelsea travel to the south coast on Sunday to take on Southampton. It’s the last fixture before the October round of international fixtures, and Chelsea would love to keep their unbeaten record intact before a meeting with Manchester United after the international break.
Chelsea are fresh off an energetic draw with Liverpool last weekend when Daniel Sturridge’s late goal turned a potential 1-0 win into a draw. But Chelsea’s performance against Liverpool was very good and showed encouraging signs that Chelsea are adapting to Sarriball far quicker than the manager expected.
However, the Blues laboured quite a bit in midweek against a MOL Vidi side that sat deep and looked to counter attack, a far cry from the Liverpool side that looked to press high and attack. Alvaro Morata broke his most recent goal-scoring drought to provide a second-half winner, but Chelsea seemed to have difficulty breaking down a very organised side.
Fortunately, Southampton are not a side that tend to just sit in and counter. They can play that style of football, but it’s not a brand of football that they excel in. In fact, you could argue that they should probably try and stay a bit more compact considering their issues with finishing chances.
It’s a sign of your attack falling down in the final third when your second-leading goal scorer is a centre midfielder, but that’s the case with the Saints. Pierre-Emile Hojberg trails only Danny Ings in Premier League goals, and neither Charlie Austin nor Shane Long has chipped in with any goals.
Unfortunately, a lack of goals and a more aggressive style of play tends to work in Chelsea’s favour because they do tend to play better against sides that will leave openings. However, Chelsea have striker problems of their own.
Morata and Olivier Giroud have scored just two goals between them in all competitions this season, and the Blues have becoming very reliant on Eden Hazard to produce goals and assists, though the Belgian is enjoying a very good run of form, only failing to score in two matches in which he’s made an appearance.
But Giroud does have a good scoring history against Southampton. The Frenchman has five goals in his last four appearances against the Saints, both for Chelsea and Arsenal. Last season, his two goals in nine minutes brought Chelsea back from the brink of defeat at St. Mary’s. But unlike last season’s appearance, Giroud will be looking for a similar influence on the game from the start rather than making his appearance from the bench.
Chelsea don’t have a great record coming off of midweek European fixtures, but given that Maurizio Sarri made eight changes and only brought Hazard off the bench, Chelsea shouldn’t be able to make the argument that they’re suffering fatigue.
If they play to their potential, Chelsea should help continue Southampton’s misery of not winning at home this season.