Tim Ireland/Associated Press
Chelsea will have the chance to turn around their form on Saturday, when they pay a visit to a Southampton team that’s on an even worse run than the Blues.
Manager Antonio Conte is under real pressure after winning just one of his last five Premier League matches, but Southampton are in a far worse place. Saints have lost three in a row and are winless in the league since February 3.
Here’s all you need to know about the upcoming fixture.
Date: Saturday, April 14
Time: 12:30 p.m. BST/7:30 a.m. ET
Venue: St. Mary’s Stadium, Southampton
According to WhoScored.com, David Luiz and Ethan Ampadu will miss Saturday’s clash, while Davide Zappacosta and Ross Barkley are also doubts for the Blues.
For Saints, Jack Stephens is suspended following his red card against Arsenal, while Mario Lemina and Shane Long are expected to be fit.
It only seems a matter of team before the Premier League champions part ways with Conte, as the Blues are going nowhere fast.
Their UEFA Champions League exit at the hands of Barcelona didn’t come as a surprise, but they haven’t won in the Premier League since and were last seen slumping to a draw at home to West Ham United.
With just six matches to play, the Blues are 10 points behind Tottenham Hotspur and the final Champions League ticket. At this point, a comeback seems just about impossible.
Reporters such as Simon Johnson of the London Evening Standard have given up on the season and are urging the head coach to field his youth players:
Simon Johnson @sjstandardsport
Given top four hopes are over, this guy should play every League game for #cfc for the rest of the season. Will Conte do it though? https://t.co/3AuFhU0JU6
Spurs will play host to Manchester City later on Saturday, however, and if they lose, there’s still some hope the gap can be bridged. Because of that, expect Conte to stick with his top options for now against a team the Blues should always beat.
The gap between Southampton and 17th-place Crystal Palace is just three points, but it feels much larger at this stage.
Saints have been awful of late and don’t inspire any confidence they can conjure a late rescue act, even if the Eagles are within reach―and Southampton even have a match in hand.
The team should take comfort from their solid showing against Arsenal, even if it didn’t lead to any points:
⚽️ 17′ Arsenal 0-1 Southampton ⚽️ 28′ Arsenal 1-1 Southampton ⚽️ 38′ Arsenal 2-1 Southampton ⚽️ 73’ Arsenal 2-2 Southampton ⚽️ 81’ Arsenal 3-2 Southampton 🔴 90+2’ Southampton red card 🔴 90+2’ Arsenal red card Are you not entertained? https://t.co/zAzEbjcKOm
If Saints can replicate the quality they showed against the Gunners, they have a chance to grab points against a slumping Chelsea side and string together some wins the rest of the way.
Cedric Soares was a standout on the right side of the pitch against Arsenal and will fancy his chances against Marcos Alonso, who has been far from his best in recent weeks.
Momentum is a funny thing, and when two clubs in bad form clash, talent is often the deciding factor. Chelsea have a unique chance to build some much-needed momentum with a win this weekend and should take full advantage.
Final score: Southampton 1-2 Chelsea