Chelsea vs Southampton

Chelsea vs Southampton Preview: Can Saints keep out injury-hit Blues?

Chelsea laboured to a one-nil win away at Crystal Palace in their last match. In the aftermath of that win, the Blues were left with six first-team players injured.

If you saw the game, you’d have noticed Olivier Giroud hobbling off with an ankle problem in the 76th minute. Maurizio Sarri said his side suffered three injuries in 10 minutes to Cesc Fabregas, Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Danny Drinkwater a day prior to the Palace trip.

With injury concerns to Pedro and Callum Hudson-Odoi, Sarri opined his team is in trouble with the January fixture pile-up. Read More

Southampton vs Manchester City

Southampton vs Manchester City Preview – A Tale of Two Cities

It was the best of teams. It was the worst of teams. At least as far as the Premier League table was concerned.

It was Matchweek 16. Southampton had just lost 1-0 to Cardiff City and found themselves in 19th place – level on points with Fulham who were sat just below them.

At the other end of the table, Manchester City had fallen to Maurizio Sarri’s Chelsea, having been unbeaten in the league before that. Liverpool had managed to sneak ahead but, as everyone was saying, every team has to lose at some point and Chelsea seemed as likely a team as any to inflict first blood on Pep Guardiola’s team. City were still the overwhelming favourites to take home the Premier League trophy at the end of the season.

Since then, the tables have turned: recently-appointed Ralph Hasenhüttl has reversed Southampton’s fortunes, seeing them victorious against Arsenal and Huddersfield in his first four games in charge. Read More

Southampton vs Arsenal

Southampton vs Arsenal Preview: Lean pickings in Gunners’ defence

So here’s the fact: in Arsenal’s defence, Rob Holding is out; Shkodran Mustafi is out, Sokratis Papastathopoulos is suspended, Dinos Mavroapnos is out. Three out of the four defenders who have featured heavily at the heart of the Arsenal defence.

In the face of a really threatening opponent, Unai Emery would probably be pulling his hair out, cursing in broken English. However, it’s only Southampton, 19th in the table, joint-second worst attack in the Premier League with only 13 goals scored in their last 16 matches; a perfect game to ease Laurent Koscielny back into the side as the Gunners head into a testy and packed schedule in the festive season.

Koscielny made his first appearance in months in the Europa League on Thursday against Qarabag, after his absence since May due to an achilles injury. Emery is likely to pair the French defender with Nacho Monreal, the left back who is also just returning from the sidelines.

Emery’s other options include veteran right-back Stephan Lichtsteiner and Carl Jenkinson, who has not made an appearance since November 2016. Not the most ideal bunch, especially if the boss persists with three centre-backs. Read More

Tottenham Hotspur vs Southampton Premier League Preview

Tottenham Hotspur vs Southampton Preview: All relief needed

North London is red now, and Tottenham’s Mauricio Pocchetino has some work to do. At the end of the clash against Arsenal, Spurs’ manager considered the 4-2 defeat a consequence of a tough week, in which Chelsea and Internazionale tasted White Hart Lane’s steel.

This seems to be a very generous response to an anthology of individual mistakes seen at the Emirates, protecting his pupils from the awful truth before meeting Barcelona in the next Champions League fixture.

One shall remember that, some days before the derby, the Argentinian manager admitted fifth placed Tottenham are not aiming for the Premier League title. Therefore, the next match at Wembley can provide all relief needed, against a stumbling and acephalous Southampton. Read More

Southampton vs Manchester United

Southampton vs Manchester United Preview: Last chance for Mourinho?

The dark cloud which has hung ominously over Old Trafford since the opening day of the 2018-19 season has shown little sign of disappearing and after last week’s drab goalless draw against Crystal Palace, expectations have plummeted among United supporters. The win against Young Boys may have helped a little, but it was hardly scintillating stuff.

The Red Devils are seventh in the Premier League, 15 behind table-topping arch-rivals Manchester City and seven behind fourth-placed Chelsea. Pressure mounts on José Mourinho with each passing game.

Against a struggling Palace side last Saturday the same old problems persisted, as the combination of a lack of urgency in attack and laziness in midfield left United looking second best and ultimately lucky to emerge with a point. Read More

Manchester City vs Southampton

Manchester City vs Southampton Preview: Saints Will Need a Miracle

After a scare-free Halloween week, City’s next opponent in the crowded fixture list is Southampton. Though the Saints put in an excellent performance against the Blues last year, City are much improved this season against teams in the lower areas of the table. Given the easy early schedule, I’m not quite ready to declare this team superior than last year’s edition despite the impressive start.

Still, one thing that can’t be denied is that they’ve played much better against teams outside last year’s top six. City last season averaged 13 shots and five shots on target more than such opponents, a pretty high baseline. This season, they’re averaging an incredible 19 and eight in those categories. Read More

Southampton vs Chelsea Premier League Preview

Southampton vs Chelsea Preview: From ‘good Napoli’ to ‘good Chelsea’

For anyone who had caught much of Napoli during the past three seasons, the arrival of Maurizio Sarri in the Premier League during the summer promised to be something of a treat. With his eponymous Sarri-ball, the former investment banker had been beguiling aficionados of Serie A for whom Sarri’s high-energy pressing and breakneck transitions had almost seen them topple Juventus at the end of the 2017/18 season.

However, lest it was assumed Chelsea would be re-created in Napoli’s image under Sarri, he was quick to qualify the fan’s expectations of Sarri-ball 2.0.

‘I don’t want to do another Naples,’ he said earlier in the season. ‘I want to do a good Chelsea. I have to adapt myself to the characteristics of this championship and of (my) players. I am studying my players.’

Of course, in speaking of ‘my players’, Sarri was not entirely correct in differentiating between Napoli and Chelsea. For he had brought one player with him who would be the rock upon which he would build his new church in West London: Jorginho. Read More

Liverpool vs Southampton

Liverpool vs Southampton Preview: Ode to the One-Eyed King

Anfield rarely disappoints you on a Champions League night.

It could be argued that the Reds were unfortunate to be put in a strong group with the likes of Paris Saint-Germain, Napoli and even Crvena Zvezda who showed this week that passion can get you places even when all the odds are stacked against you.

In a way, it was the case with Liverpool as well, who pulled off a coup against an expensive PSG side, packed with some of the world’s most expensive players. Kylian Mbappe and Neymar were, however, given the taste of a genuine football atmosphere where fans and players breathe like one – holding each other’s back and moving forward hand in hand towards unimaginable heights. Read More