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Kovacic starts | Expected Chelsea line-up vs Southampton

Chelsea travel to St Mary’s for Saturday’s Premier League encounter against Southampton. Here is the line-up we expect Thomas Tuchel to select.

thomas tuchel chelsea

Chelsea travel to St Mary’s for Saturday’s Premier League encounter against Southampton.

The Blues have had a poor restart after the international break. They suffered a shock 4-1 league defeat to Brentford before a 3-1 loss to Real Madrid in the first leg of their Champions League quarter-final.

Manager Thomas Tuchel cut a frustrated figure after the midweek loss, and he could be tempted to make a few changes. Some key players could also be rested ahead of the second leg against Madrid on Tuesday.

Chelsea are currently third in the league standings, five points clear of fifth-placed Arsenal. There is still plenty of work to be done over the coming weeks as they aim to secure their place in next season’s Champions League.

Here is how Chelsea could line up against Southampton:

Mendy dropped

edouard mendy chelsea

Goalkeeper: Edouard Mendy had a poor outing against Madrid. His distribution has come under scrutiny in recent weeks, and paid the price on Wednesday with Karim Benzema capitalising on his loose pass, 30 yards away from goal. The Frenchman bagged his hat-trick as a result which has left Chelsea with a huge mountain to climb at Madrid. It won’t be a surprise if Kepa Arrizabalaga replaces the £28.8m star tomorrow.

Defence: The backline could also see a couple of changes. Andreas Christensen was far from his best against Madrid and was substituted at the halfway mark. He could be replaced by Trevoh Chalobah. Malang Sarr could also come into the back three with Thiago Silva possibly being rested. Antonio Rudiger should start alongside the young duo in central defence.

Cesar Azpilicueta played in an unfamiliar left wing-back role in midweek with Tuchel obviously wanting more defensive assurance. He could slot into the opposite end this weekend ahead of Reece James, who could be handled with caution, having just returned from a knee injury. In this case, Marcos Alonso looks set to start at left wing-back for Chelsea with Ben Chilwell injured.

mateo kovacic chelsea 2022

Kovacic returns

Midfield: N’Golo Kante had a difficult outing in midweek where he was outclassed by Casemiro. This paved the way for his half-time substitution, but the Frenchman should still be fancied to start the return leg in the Spanish capital. He could be offered a breather on Saturday with Mateo Kovacic, who came off the bench against Madrid, partnering Jorginho. The latter has registered an assist in each of his last three appearances for Chelsea.

Attack: Kai Havertz has been the Blues’ best-performing attacking player since February, and showed his quality with another goal against the La Liga leaders. The German should continue in the XI, and could be leading the line once again.

Romelu Lukaku had a lively second-half performance against Madrid. He nearly scored before creating a key chance for Hakim Ziyech. However, the Belgian is an injury doubt and may not feature tomorrow.  The same appears the case for Ziyech while Callum Hudson-Odoi is still nursing an Achilles issue.

Considering this, Tuchel’s options are somewhat limited in attack. Mason Mount and Christian Pulisic appear likely candidates to start. Mount has been an ever-present figure when fit and should reunite with Pulisic, who has been above Timo Werner in the pecking order for a number of months.

Expected Chelsea line-up (3-4-2-1) vs Southampton

football formations

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