Chelsea VS Southampton – LIVE Reddit Soccer 9/4/2022
Chelsea will aim to avoid a third defeat on the bounce in all competitions when they travel to St Mary’s to face Southampton in Saturday’s Premier League contest. Thomas Tuchel’s side fell to a 3-1 defeat in the first leg of their Champions League quarter-final to Real Madrid in midweek, while the Saints most recently drew 1-1 with Leeds United. Where would Southampton be without James Ward-Prowse and his dead ball prowess? Seemingly heading for a fifth straight defeat in all competitions, Ralph Hasenhuttl’s side were up against it when Jack Harrison drew first blood for Leeds just before the half-hour mark.
However, with just four minutes gone in the second half, Ward-Prowse produced a typically sublime free kick to force a share of the spoils at Elland Road and finally end a worrying streak of losses for Southampton, who went through all of March without gleaning a single point. Hasenhuttl’s side have endured quite the downturn in fortunes since their stellar period over the winter months, and just one point taken from the last 12 on offer in the Premier League sees them languish in 12th spot in the table – one point off a potential top-half finish.
Conceding nine goals in their last four games in the top flight highlights where the issues lie for the Saints, who despite being previously solid in front of their own fans have slumped to back-to-back home defeats to Watford and Newcastle United in the past few weeks. On a brighter note, Hasenhuttl’s side have scored in each of their last 12 Premier League home games since drawing a blank against Wolverhampton Wanderers in September, and if the past week is anything to go by, Chelsea’s defensive discipline is not what it used to be.
Having already destroyed one team in blue with his clinical hat-trick versus Paris Saint-Germain, Real Madrid veteran Karim Benzema continues to age like a fine wine and repeated his three-goal showing at Stamford Bridge to leave Chelsea’s Champions League defence in tatters.
A pair of brilliant headers from the Frenchman preceded a response from Kai Havertz before the half-time whistle blew, but Benzema soon restored Los Blancos’ two-goal cushion after a calamitous error from the normally-reliable Edouard Mendy.
Failing to respond after a dampening 4-1 loss to Brentford in the Premier League has just led to a hint of uncertainty creeping in surrounding Chelsea’s third-placed standing in the Premier League, but Tuchel’s side remain five points clear of Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur for the time being.
All eyes will be on the Blues’ response at the Santiago Bernabeu next Tuesday before an FA Cup semi-final showdown with Crystal Palace, but winning each of their last six games away from home in all competitions at least sets them up well for a trip down south.
Chelsea needed penalties to overcome Southampton in the EFL Cup earlier this season, but they won 3-1 at Stamford Bridge in the Premier League and have lost just one of their last 14 with the Saints in all tournaments.
Saturday will be a busy day in the Premier League, with as many as five matches scheduled in the top flight. The action on Saturday kicks off with a game between Everton and Manchester United at Goodison Park before Southampton and Chelsea take the field at St. Mary’s in the afternoon.
Southampton’s 2021/22 campaign has been a rollercoaster ride, as they have won only eight of their 30 games thus far but have lost just ten times. But the Saints have a good chance of finishing in the top half, with ninth-placed Crystal Palace a point ahead. That said, Ralph Hasenhuttl’s men are currently on a four-game winless run, which has sapped their momentum.
Much like the hosts, Chelsea’s momentum has come to a grinding halt, with the Blues losing back-to-back games in the past week. Before the successive defeats, Chelsea had not been beaten inside ninety minutes in any of their last 14 games across all competitions. But while the loss to Brentford might not have an effect in the Premier League, the result against Real Madrid has left the west Londoners on the brink of elimination from the UEFA Champions League.
Southampton and Chelsea have met each other twice this season, with both games ending all square. However, the most recent clash ended with Thomas Tuchel’s charges prevailing on penalties in the Carabao Cup Round of 16. Ahead of the latest meeting between the two sides, The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at the encounter.
Ralph Hasenhuttl has been handed a boost on the team news front ahead of the visit of Chelsea. On Saturday, the Southampton manager could be bereft of the services of as many as four first-team players, including Chelsea loanee Armando Broja, who is ineligible to face his parent club.
The good news is that Lyanco (match fitness) and Shane Long (ankle) could be available to take on Chelsea, although the duo will face late fitness tests to determine their availability. And while Alex McCarthy is closing in on returning to action, he will likely be unavailable for another week before being in contention to feature for Southampton.
In McCarthy’s continued absence, Fraser Forster picks himself in goal, with Southampton set to line up in a 4-2-2-2 formation against Chelsea. The onus will be on the defenders and the central midfielders to keep things tight and deny the Chelsea playmakers the space to exploit.
Jan Bednarek and Mohammed Salisu should pair up at the heart of the Southampton defence, with Kyle Walker-Peters and former Chelsea youth star Valentino Livramento being the two full-backs. While Walker-Peters and Livramento will carry a significant threat in the final third, they will also be responsible for keeping Chelsea’s two wing-backs quiet.
As for the central midfielders, James Ward-Prowse and Oriol Romeu will aim to keep their Chelsea counterparts in check. At the same time, Ward-Prowse’s output on the dead ball will be crucial for Southampton to remain in the tie for long periods.
Mohamed Elyounoussi and Stuart Armstrong will be the attacking midfielders, with the duo supporting the strike partnership of Che Adams and Adam Armstrong. Elyonoussi and Stuart Armstrong will also create a four-man midfield unit in the defensive phases, with the aim being to deny the Chelsea creators the space to exploit.