PRE-MATCH BRIEFING: CHELSEA V SOUTHAMPTON - PART ONE
It's a top-five encounter at the Bridge to bring the curtain down on this weekend's top-flight programme. Club historian Rick Glanvill and club statistician Paul Dutton prepare for a meeting with the Saints…
The corresponding fixture last season was Nigel Adkins' last in charge of Southampton. The unheralded Mauricio Pochettino has fared remarkably well since then with his high-energy pressing game. He has used the joint fewest players so far this season: 19. (Chelsea have fielded 23.)
Southampton have earned the dubious honour of being this season's 'surprise package'. In 2012/13 that was bestowed on West Bromwich Albion, fourth at this stage, destined to finish eighth. Previous campaigns have highlighted Newcastle United and Bolton Wanderers going into December, with mixed endings.
Whether Southampton's energy will last the course, and whether teams work out ways to outwit them over the second half of the season, remain to be seen.
As we bid a not-so-fond farewell to November it is worth a reminder that Saints are two points behind Chelsea, and just four points separate Liverpool in second and Tottenham in ninth. So inconsistent are the majority of top half sides that a team stringing together three or four wins could steal a march before Christmas - a tough period only the brave survive, as Jose Mourinho has said.
The Blues' next three fixtures after this weekend are Sunderland and Stoke away, followed by Crystal Palace at the Bridge. The Portuguese will expect his team to earn nine points from that sequence.
Who said 'nothing ventured, nothing gained'? After the Basel performance, you wonder at the truth of that saying. Perhaps, at least as far as Petr Cech's performance went, it was a match that should have finished 0-0.
Yet, gratifyingly, the first group stage 'double' defeat inflicted on our team failed to prevent us qualifying for the knockout phase. Our thanks go to Schalke and our final group E opponents Steaua for their stalemate, but progress with one game to go is a big improvement on last season's early exit.
It did not help losing the lively Samuel Eto'o to injury - the Cameroonian had already reported some discomfort and Fernando Torres was in the process of warming when he pulled up lame after 40 minutes.
Emerging title favourites with the bookmakers Arsenal travel to Wales this weekend, where Cardiff have already taken points off the two Manchester clubs. You have to look as far back as May 2001 for troubled Spurs' last home win over Man United. Swansea, who win or lose away but are yet to draw, encounter Man City's formidable home form. Liverpool's hosts Hull have lost just once at the KC Stadium this season.
Barclays Premier League fixtures
Aston Villa v Sunderland 3pm
Cardiff v Arsenal 3pm
Everton v Stoke 3pm
Norwich v Crystal Palace 3pm
West Ham v Fulham 3pm
Newcastle v West Brom 5.30pm - Sky Sports
Tottenham v Man Utd 12.00 noon - BT Sport
Hull v Liverpool 2.05pm Sky Sports
Chelsea v Southampton 4.10pm - Sky Sports
Manchester City v Swansea 4.10pm
Crystal Palace v West Ham 8pm - BT Sport
|Barclays Premier League top eight|
Only Southampton (seven) have conceded fewer than Chelsea's 10 goals in 12 league outings.
Chelsea have won 12 and drawn three of our last 15 home Barclays Premier League games since QPR won at Stamford Bridge on 2 January.
We have gained five points with late goals against Norwich, Man City and West Brom.
The Blues are two points behind compared to the corresponding 12 fixtures last season.
|Last six results|
|Oct 29||Arsenal (Capital One Cup a)||W 2-0|
|Nov 2||Newcastle (a)||L 0-2|
|Nov 6||Schalke (Champions League h)||W 3-0|
|Nov 9||West Brom (h)||D 2-2|
|Nov 23||West Ham (a)||W 3-0|
|Nov 26||Basel (Champions League a)||L 0-1|
League games since
A home win: 1
A home draw: 0
A home defeat: 15
|Chelsea's next three games|
|Wed 4 Dec||Sunderland (Premier League) away||7.45pm|
|Sat 7 Dec||Stoke away||3.00pm|
|Wed 11 Dec||Steaua Bucharest (Champions League) home||7.45pm|
If selected, John Terry will make his 593rd appearance and will move ahead of John Hollins as our fourth all-time highest appearance maker. John would also make his 400th Premier League appearance for Chelsea.
Petr Cech will make his 450th start for the Blues. His next clean sheet will be his 150th in the Premier League.
1 FA Cup in 1976
Premier League - 14th
FA Cup - Third round
Capital One Cup - Fourth round
Saints' best season was in 1983/84 when they finished runners-up to Liverpool in the old First Division.
The Saints have won eight points from a possible 18 away from home this season, scoring four goals. They have won at West Brom and Liverpool, drawn at Man Utd and Stoke and lost at Norwich and Arsenal.
The defeat to Arsenal last weekend ended a run of eight league games without defeat when they won 18 from a possible 24 points.
Last weekend at the Emirates was the first time in 15 games Southampton had conceded more than one goal in the Premier League. They have still conceded fewer goals (seven) than any team in the four divisions.
They have gained four points from late goals after the 88th minute.
The Saints have won all six games when opening the scoring in the Premier League this season.
Manager Mauricio Pochettino
Days in charge: 317
|SOUTHAMPTON'S LAST 10 YEAR LEAGUE HISTORY|
|Last six results|
|Oct 19||Manchester United (a)||D 1-1|
|Oct 26||Fulham (h)||W 2-0|
|Nov 2||Stoke (a)||D 1-1|
|Nov 6||Sunderland (Capital One Cup a)||L 1-2|
|Nov 9||Hull (h)||W 4-1|
|Nov 23||Arsenal (a)||L 0-2|
Premier League scorers (15)
Lambert 4 (2 pens), Lallana 3, Rodriguez 3, Davis 1, Fonte 1, Lovren 1, Osvaldo 1, Schneiderlin 1.
League games since
An away win: 3
An away draw: 1
An away defeat: 0
SAINTS MAJOR SUMMER MOVES AND AUTUMN LOANS
Ins Dejan Lovren (Lyon, £8.5m), Victor Wanyama (Celtic, £12.5m), Dani Osvaldo (Roma, £15m)
Outs Frazer Richardson (Middlesbrough, free), Danny Butterfield (Carlisle, free), Dan Seaborne (Yeovil, free), Ryan Dickson (Colchester, free), Richard Chaplow (Millwall, free), Steve De Ridder (Utrecht, free), Jason Puncheon (Crystal Palace, loan), Dean Hammond (Leicester, free), Emmanuel Mayuka (Sochaux, loan), Billy Sharp (Reading, loan).
THE MAN IN THE MIDDLE
Michael Oliver was the official in the corresponding fixture last season. His only previous Chelsea game this term was at Swindon Town in the Capital One Cup in September.
There are no suspensions.
Branislav Ivanovic is one domestic booking away from a suspension having received four yellow cards this season.
- Visit again tomorrow for part two of the Briefing.