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Southampton vs Chelsea Preview, Team News, Likely Line-Ups, Key Man & Predicted Score
Chelsea will be on the South Coast on to take on Southampton at St Mary’s on New Years Day looking to move closer to the top of the table.
The Blues head into 2014 sitting third in the Premier League – just two points adrift of leaders Arsenal – so are well positioned to take advantage of any slip-up from their rivals.
Jose Mourinho’s men may not have been at their scintillating best in recent weeks, but they’ve been able to grind out vital wins and Sunday’s 2-1 victory over Liverpool means the west Londoners have now lost just once in their last nine outings.
Southampton on the other hand have been in free-fall in recent weeks with just one win in eight seeing them drop from third down to ninth in the table.
Chelsea won the reverse fixture 3-1 at Stamford Bridge earlier in the season but the Saints will take heart from the fact they won this clash at St Mary’s last season and are a far more solid unit this time around.
Chelsea will be without Frank Lampard for the game after the midfielder was forced off against Liverpool with a muscle injury. However, Ramires is set for a recall having served his one-match ban and should replace Lampard in midfield.
Defender Branislav Ivanovic is also out after picking up a knee injury last time out so Cesar Azpilicueta will revert to right-back with Ashley Cole coming in on the left.
David Luiz is suspended after picking up his fifth booking of the season so Gary Cahill will continue alongside John Terry at the back. Mourinho may opt to bring in Andre Schurrle for Willian while Fernando Torres may start ahead of Samuel Eto’o up front.
Southampton are sweating on the fitness of striker Dani Osvaldo after the clubs record signing missed Sunday’s 2-1 loss at Everton through illness and will be handed a late fitness test on Wednesday.
Midfielder Morgan Schneiderlin is available again having served a one-game ban and Nathan Clyne is expected to be recalled after recovering from a hamstring strain.
Gaston Ramirez may also start after scoring against the Toffees but Artur Boruc, Victor Wanyama and Guly do Prado all remain sidelined.
Eden Hazard: The Belgian has been in excellent form of late and his stunning finish against Liverpool turned the game on it’s head. He’ll certainly be the man Southampton will have to keep a close eye on.
Southampton 1-2 Chelsea: The Saints haven’t been the same side that they were during the early weeks of the season and we can see Chelsea edging this one.
What team would you like to see start the game? What’s your score prediction? Share your views below.