St. Mary's Stadium
Sat 30 Mar 2013 15:00 (Attendance: 31,779)
Saturday brings a second visit to St Mary's in 2013. Club historian Rick Glanvill and club statistician herald the return of club football action…
Chelsea have had no club match for 12 days but the next dozen bring five games in rapid succession. The testing schedule begins with this vital trip to St Mary's against a side still not certain of Premier League safety, and is swiftly followed by the latest defence of our FA Cup title at home to Manchester United on Easter Monday.
The Blues will become the first Premier League team since Middlesbrough in 2006 to play two games between weekend fixtures. Three days later Rubin Kazan come calling in the UEFA Europa League, before Sunderland arrive at the Bridge next Sunday.
Easter 2011 was treated like a normal football league weekend, as were 2010 and 2008. In 2005 the Blues had the whole of Easter free. Saturday/Monday was the tradition going back through the decades, building the spring festival's reputation for making or breaking campaigns.
Chelsea are still a long way from our most concentrated flurry of games: in 1956 Roy Bentley and the boys managed six matches in 15 days, including four cup replays with Burnley.
Last time out, against his old club West Ham, Frank Lampard became only the second Chelsea player in 108 years to achieve the 200 goals milestone. He also netted for England against San Marino, becoming the highest-scoring midfielder for his country.
Others were able to enjoy the pause from the hurly burly of England's top flight. Five players were training at Cobham over the last two weeks, with several rest days scheduled in. Importantly Fernando Torres, one of just two strikers at the club for the run-in, was one of them.
Demba Ba travelled to West Africa and played 77 minutes of one game for Senegal. Stoke and Wigan are the only sides against whom Ba has scored more than Southampton; all three have come in a Chelsea shirt, including two on his debut at St Mary's.
In this of all weeks Rafael Benitez will juggle his squad to retain competitiveness and freshness. The policy has worked in the last few weeks. Only Manchester United and Arsenal are hotter in terms of current form.
Over the last eight matches Southampton have performed virtually the same as Wigan and QPR, who currently occupy two of the three relegation slots.
The Saints are eight points shy of the 38 most managers accept will guarantee Premier League safety this season, with eight games to play. They may play 28 games fewer than the visitors this weekend.
Mauricio Pochettino has won two of his eight games in charge since Nigel Adkins' departure - against Manchester City and Liverpool. Perhaps his most impressive achievement to date has been to continue seamlessly the good spirit and playing style of his predecessor, as well as his preferred 4-2-3-1 formation.
The south coasters might argue Chelsea's 5-1 win over Adkins' team at St Mary's in the FA Cup slightly flattered the Londoners. Southampton had taken the lead but it was Chelsea who rallied powerfully either side of half time to reach Round 4 of the FA Cup.
The 2-2 at the Bridge in the league soon after suggested nothing should be taken for granted, though. The Saints' impressive, Chelsea-supporting full-backs, Nathaniel Clyne and Luke Shaw, were allowed to raid down their flanks in the second half. Slack defending and sucker punches from Rickie Lambert and Jason Puncheon pegged the Blues back from a 2-0 half-time lead.
Should central defender Jos Hooiveld score another own goal this season it will set a new Premier League record. He has notched three so far, equalling Andreas Jakobsson - also of Southampton - in 2004/05, John Paintsil (Fulham) 2010/11 and Scott Dann (Blackburn) last season. The most ever in a single season was five by Middlesbrough's Robert Stuart in 1934/35.
Chelsea have a mixed record in the games that follow international fixtures, wins at White Hart Lane and home to Wigan countered by the stalemate at QPR and defeat at West Brom.
Slips such as the home draw with Southampton mean the Blues have little margin for error in the league, despite having a game in hand over fourth-placed Tottenham.
Our Lilywhite rivals have 54 points after 30 matches whereas last season at the same juncture they had accrued 55. The Blues had 49 after 29, six fewer than today.
Spurs have what might appear a tricky test in Swansea away, though the Welsh side have lost two in three since their Capital One Cup final glory and their minds might already be fixed on the beaches of Rhyl or Prestatyn.
Arsenal host Reading, who recently dumped their manager, the former Gunner Brian McDermott. The Royals' new coach is Adkins, formerly of Southampton. Everton entertain a Stoke side that have won once in 14 games.
|The race for the Champions League - Games remaining|
|Chelsea (9)||Arsenal (9)||Tottenham (8)|
|Southampton (a)||Reading (h)||Swansea (a)|
|Sunderland (h)||West Brom (a)||Everton (h)|
|Tottenham (h)||Norwich (h)||Chelsea (a)|
|Fulham (a)||Everton (h)||Man City (h)|
|Liverpool (a)||Fulham (a)||Wigan (a)|
|Swansea (h)||Man Utd (h)||Southampton (h)|
|Man Utd (a)||QPR (a)||Stoke (a)|
|Aston Villa (a)||Wigan (h)||Sunderland (h)|
|Everton (h)||Newcastle (a)|
At this stage of the season the teeth start to grind and the hunger for silverware begins to gnaw. No one would choose to face fierce rivals or a highly motivated outfit desperate to avoid the drop from the Premier League just as the bounteous new TV deal arrives.
Better to face the ships becalmed in mid-table with nothing to play for. On the other hand, sides who have had the stress removed from their season sometimes play with freedom and no fear.
Chelsea have three targets remaining. It could still be a remarkable season and not just a uniquely intense one.
Barclays Premier League fixtures
Sunderland v Manchester United 12.45pm - Sky Sports
Arsenal v Reading 3pm
Manchester City v Newcastle 3pm
Southampton v Chelsea 3pm
Swansea v Tottenham 3pm
West Ham v West Brom 3pm
Wigan v Norwich 3pm
Everton v Stoke 5.30pm - ESPN
Aston Villa v Liverpool 1.30pm - Sky Sports
Fulham v QPR 8pm - Sky Sports
|Barclays Premier League table|
Race for the Premier League Golden Glove
Joe Hart (Manchester City) 13
Petr Cech 11
Asmir Begovic (Stoke) 10
Simon Mignolet (Sunderland) 9
Pepe Reina (Liverpool) 9
Click on tabs above for more briefing.
Chelsea TV summariser and former winger Clive Walker battens down the hatches for an intense run of games and assesses how the Blues might successfully navigate the first of them at St Mary's.
'I can't think of anything comparable to what the boys have to face over the coming weeks: Saturday, Monday, Thursday, Sunday. The congestion I experienced was always Christmas and New Year, then Easter, but not quite like this.
'Funnily enough my worst time was with Woking when my career was ending and I played four games in eight days and was only got brought off in one of them - 10 minutes from the end. Adrenalin can get you through - when you are winning!
'It's hard to avoid injury when commitment is essential. The key thing for players is plenty of rest. Players should be honest about fatigue too, but I think this is where managers earn their money. They watch players carefully during training and observe their general manner.
'This game is no more or less important as those that are on their way. Three points are obviously essential as we have a chance to help cement a Champions League spot.
'We've had a mixed bag of games against Southampton so far this season. Runway winners in the cup at St Mary's, then in the league at the Bridge Rickie Lambert's introduction for Fernandez changed the game and we suffered for it.
'At this stage of the season thoughts of past results don't matter a bit though. You focus on the 90 minutes and the team will have learned from previous matches that we don't let teams lower down the league off the hook. The way Eden Hazard has been playing the last few weeks, they may find him very difficult to live with but he - and Juan Mata, Oscar, Victor Moses etc. - have to keep reproducing it.
'All our players are important at this time but Rafael Benitez will be looking to keep the creative players fresh. Mentally they do things fans can't see coming. Defenders too - that's why they are very important to us winning matches, especially tight games.
'We will be hoping to start well with intensity against Southampton, not allow the home fans to get going, and score first. This is a match we can totally dominate if our concentration is good.
'Mentally, international breaks can be good. The worry is that the travelling for some can be very hard. As a manager you hope and pray your players come back from far-flung climes intact and on time.
'It's the same for all the clubs these days. Saints have had the likes of Gastón Ramirez playing two games at high altitude in South America. What state will he be in when he eventually makes it back?
'There is a question mark over whether they have the strength in depth to replace key players if they miss Saturday's game. Jos Hooiveld (pictured below right) held things together impressively at the back but limped out of their last match. Their full-backs Nathaniel Clyne and Luke Shaw were impressive in that comeback. But again, Shaw has been injured and missed England's U21 games this week.
'The Chelsea players have enjoyed a few wins which can be positive for the atmosphere in the dressing rooms, and the coming back will be easier.
'We have to be wary of Rickie Lambert. He plays on his own upfront and is one of those players who really can get up for big games. We must not give him an inch of space.
'He's got quality in hitting the target so will always be a threat. Free kicks, too, he can be a real danger. We can deal with that whoever plays at the back. The trick is to stop the delivery to him and Jason Puncheon, especially crosses.
'Jack Cork loved his time at Chelsea but now he's thriving in Saints' midfield he will want to put one over his old club.
'It was brilliant for Frank Lampard to reach 200 goals - truly remarkable - but Bobby Tambling's 202 is the real target. Not far to go though.
'I'd say Ray Wilkins could have been the best goalscoring midfielder in my day had formations been more flexible back then. Mickey Fillery, barring injuries, was outstanding for a short while.
'With such a tight schedule there's little point guessing who will start which games. We have to rotate and keep them all as fresh and effective as possible.
'Looking at Southampton since January, Mauricio Pochettino has not made big changes to his side yet. This season it's all about survival for them. For us there are still big prizes to win.'
Squad fitness news
Gary Cahill and Ramires's availability will be assessed close to the game. Oriol Romeu is the only player definitely out. For Southampton, Adam Lallana, Luke Shaw and Jos Hooiveld all face late fitness tests.
Click on tabs above for more briefing.
WE HAVE HISTORY
Chelsea are hoping to extend our unbeaten record against Southampton to nine games. It is a fixture that has been played since 1924, for many years at The Dell.
There was a right ding-dong at that very stadium between our two sides in January 1968, with the mid-table Blues putting on a vibrant attacking display. Advantage see-sawed between the two sides, though.
Mick Channon opened the scoring from close range on eight minutes from a Ken Jones cross, but shrewd Scot Charlie Cooke caught Saints keeper Forsyth cold with a sharp 25-yarder to level before the half-hour.
Dave Sexton's side then took command in a devastating 15-minute spell. Winger Cooke was involved again in the next two goals, crossing for Tommy Baldwin (pictured below) to flick in from close range with his head, then taking the ball off Peter Osgood's toes, carousing 40 yards and planting the ball at Bobby Tambling's feet for a simple tap-in. Johnny Boyle made it 4-1 with a powerful drive that whisked past Baldwin's boot en route to goal, flummoxing the keeper.
Controversy surrounded the goal that brought Southampton some hope midway through the second period. Ron Davies's shot was deflected off Ron Harris and past Tommy Hughes in the Pensioners' goal. (Peter Bonetti had 'flu.)
Before that move began, though, Tambling took a blow in the face and lay prone, face down in mud, in the opposition goalmouth. 'I was hit by a bunch of fives,' said the forward afterwards, feeling the lump on his jaw.
A few minutes later the Blues made it five, Osgood converting from Tambling's pass. The last word went to the Saints, Davies grabbing his second - and sixth that season against the Londoners - with a header. Final score: 5-3.
Chelsea have won four and drawn once at St Mary's Stadium on our five previous visits in all competitions.
The Saints last win against the Blues was at Stamford Bridge on New Year's Day 2002 when three second-half goals from Marian Pahars, Chris Marsden and James Beattie gave Southampton a 4-2 win. Eidur Gudjohnsen and Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink had put the Blues 2-1 up after Beattie opened the scoring in the seventh minute.
Their last win on home soil was in November 2000 at the Dell when a brace from James Beattie and Jo Tessem helped them to a 3-2 victory. Dennis Wise and Gus Poyet scored for the visitors
Our last 10 league meetings at Southampton
1995/96 - Chelsea won 3-2
1996/97 - Drew 0-0
1997/98 - Southampton won 1-0
1998/99 - Chelsea won 2-0
1999/00 - Chelsea won 2-1
2000/01 - Southampton won 3-2
2001/02 - Chelsea won 2-0
2002/03 - Drew 1-1
2003/04 - Chelsea won 1-0
2004/05 - Chelsea won 3-1
Our other meetings this season
16 January 2013 Barclays Premier League
Ba 25 Lambert 57
Hazard 45 Puncheon 74
5 January 2013 FA Cup third round
Rodriguez 21 Ba 35, 61
Lampard 82 pen
Chelsea v Southampton in all competitions
Games played 90
Chelsea wins 36
Saints wins 28
Head to head in the League at The Dell and St Mary's Stadium
Games played 38
Chelsea wins 15
Saints wins 12
Biggest league win at Southampton for each team
Southampton 0-3 Chelsea - 03/09/1966
Southampton 5-0 Chelsea - 01/02/1969
Chelsea won away in the Premier League: 77
Southampton beat Chelsea: 4,106
Arsenal won a trophy: 2,869
Liverpool won the league: 8,364
Visit again tomorrow for part two of the Briefing.
The Blues are eight points better off compared to the corresponding 29 fixtures last season.
Chelsea's defeat at West Ham in December was only our second reverse in the last 72 games against newly promoted teams, over a 12 year periiod. We have won 57 of those matches.
Chelsea have gained only one point from our last three away Barclays Premier League games since winning at Stoke in January.
Of the 19 occasions Chelsea have opened the scoring in the Premier League, we have won 14 games and drawn four. Only West Ham have defeated us.
Chelsea still have the Premier League's second-best scoring and defensive records this term.
We have gained 12 points from losing positions this season.
We have dropped 14 points from winning positions.
|Last six results|
|Feb 27||Middlesbrough (FA Cup 5 a)||W 2-0|
|Mar 2||West Brom (h)||W 1-0|
|Mar 7||Steaua Bucharest (Europa League a)||L 0-1|
|Mar 10||Manchester United (FA Cup a)||D 2-2|
|Mar 28||Steaua Bucharest (Europa League h)||W 3-1|
|Mar 17||West Ham (h)||W 2-0|
Premier League scorers
Lampard 12 (4 pens), Mata 10, E Hazard 8 (1 pen), Torres 7 (1 pen), Ivanovic 4, Ramires 4, Ba 2, Cahill 2, Cole 1, D Luiz 1, Marin 1, Moses 1, Oscar 1 (pen), Sturridge 1, Terry 1, own goals 2. Total 58
League games since
An away win: 3
An away draw: 2
An away defeat: 0
|Chelsea's next three games|
|Mon 1 Apr||Man United (FA Cup QF replay) home||12.30pm|
|Thu 4 April||Rubin Kazan (Europa League) home||8.05pm|
|Sun 7 Apr||Sunderland home||3pm|
Frank Lampard needs two goals to equal our all-time top scorer Bobby Tambling on 202.
If selected, Fernando Torres and Oscar will make their 50th appearance of the season for the Blues
1 FA Cup in 1976
Saints best season was in 1983/84 when they finished runners-up to Liverpool in the old First Division.
Saints have conceded 52 league goals this season. Only Reading 57, Aston Villa 56 and Wigan 56 have conceded more.
Southampton have only come back to win one of the 13 league games their opponents opened the scoring.
They have dropped 27 points from winning positions, the worst record in the Premier League
At home this term they have won 20 points from a possible 45 with five wins against Aston Villa, Newcastle, Reading, Man City and Liverpool, five draws against Fulham, Swansea, Norwich, Arsenal and Everton and five defeats to Wigan, Man Utd, Tottenham, Sunderland and QPR.
Southampton have conceded more hat-tricks than any other Premier League side. The Saints have been on the receiving end of a treble on 16 occasions in the 14 seasons they have spent in the top flight since its rebranding in 1992.
Manager Mauricio Pochettino
Days in charge: 71
|SOUTHAMPTON'S LAST 10 YEAR LEAGUE HISTORY|
|Last six results|
|Feb 2||Wigan (a)||D 2-2|
|Feb 9||Manchester City (h)||W 3-1|
|Feb 24||Newcastle (a)||L 2-4|
|Mar 2||QPR (h)||L 1-2|
|Mar 9||Norwich (a)||D 0-0|
|Mar 16||Liverpool (h)||W 3-1|
Premier League scorers
Lambert 13 (3 pens), Puncheon 5, Schneiderlin 5, Ramirez 4, Rodriguez 4, Fonte 2, Lallana 2, S Davis 2, Clyne 1, Fox 1, own goals 3. Total 42
League games since
A home win: 0
A home draw: 3
A home defeat: 1
Saints completed January transfers
Ins Vegard Forren (Molde, undisclosed)
THE MAN IN THE MIDDLE
The referee is Martin Atkinson. Chelsea have won four of the last five matches he has officiated, most recently a 2-0 FA Cup victory at Boro.
There are no suspensions.
A lacklustre display away from home saw Chelsea deservedly beaten at Southampton on Saturday.
A slow start brought signs of what may follow, and Jay Rodriguez gave the home side the lead midway through the first half with a well-taken goal after tidy build-up play.
John Terry headed the Blues level within 10 minutes, but Southampton were immediately back in front when Rickie Lambert bent home a stunning long-range free-kick, and that was the way it would stay.
It rarely looked as though Chelsea would get going with the Saints the more threatening side for long periods, and only after the introduction of Eden Hazard on the hour did the balance of play tip in our favour.
The Belgian came close to an equaliser with a low cross-cum-shot and Victor Moses brought one excellent save from substitute goalkeeper Kelvin Davis, but Southampton held on to inflict a damaging defeat on a day when our main rivals in the Barclays Premier League all won.
Southampton made two changes from their 3-1 win over Liverpool. Adam Lallana and Gaston Ramirez missed out, with Steven Davis and Jason Puncheon their replacements.
A couple of early corners suggested the Blues would be quickly into their stride, but it was from one of these set-pieces that a Southampton breakaway brought the game's first chance. Jay Rodriguez picked up a loose ball inside his own half and after a sharp turn, ran at the heart of the Chelsea defence, finding space to shoot but doing so tamely straight at Petr Cech.
Two minutes later the Saints came forward again and Nathaniel Clyne should have done better when he hesitated inside the area, but Rickie Lambert still managed to get a shot away, Ivanovic closing it down quickly to prevent an opening goal.
There was no doubt which side was on top, with Chelsea struggling to find fluidity all over the field, and Southampton would go in front midway through the first half with a well-worked goal.
Lambert did well to retain possession down their left flank, and fed Rodriguez inside. Direct once more, he strode forward and played a smart one-two with Davis, running beyond the Blues' static backline and finished calmly past Cech. There could be few complaints it had been deserved.
In the 10 minutes that followed Chelsea continued to struggle, but when a Moses cross was deflected behind it allowed Marin to send a corner over, and six yards from goal, Terry headed down and into the net for the leveller, but parity would last only two minutes.
John Mikel Obi fouled Lambert 30 yards from goal, and after a short delay, the striker lined up the free-kick and bent it perfectly into Cech's right-hand corner, beyond the goalkeeper's reach. It was a goal the striker warranted, having been a constant thorn in the Chelsea side for much of the first half.
Having just got back on level terms, the Blues had it all to do once more, but could barely get hold of the ball as Southampton passed it around the lush St Mary's pitch with purpose. In midfield former Chelsea trainee Jack Cork and Morgan Schneiderlin were getting the better of Mikel and Frank Lampard, who were too easily overrun when Davis dropped deep to become involved.
Southampton were forced into a change at the break with goalkeeper Artur Boruc forced off. His replacement was Kelvin Davis.
Cech was the first keeper in action at the beginning of the second period though, beating a cross-shot from Clyne behind at his near post.
Another Marin cross from the right, where he had taken a corner just before, bounced around the Saints area before falling to Lampard, whose snapshot was blocked by keeper Davis. The offside flag went up anyway, so any goal would not have counted.
Shortly afterwards the England man found space in the Southampton half to shoot, but instad fed Marin to his left. The German jinked inside to shoot on his favoured right foot, but Maya Yoshida blocked.
A quick Torres free-kick played in Cesar Azpilicueta down the right, and he pulled back for Moses, whose shot was deflected up over the goalkeeper towards the Southampton net, only for the 36-year-old stopper to get fingertips to the ball and knock it onto the bar and over.
On the hour Rafael Benitez made his first change, introducing Hazard, twice a goalscorer on international duty for Belgium, in place of Marin. Moses switched to the left with the suboperating down the right with licence to roam.
Southampton were threatening less now but Rodriguez was allowed a free-header from a corner and should have done better than heading well wide from 10 yards, then the same player beat Ivanovic to a loose ball and brought a decent save from Cech. Chelsea's defence was unconvincing and lacking concentration, with Ryan Bertrand and Ivanovic once more caught napping by their hungry and dynamic opponents.
Hazard took a while to find his stride, but 13 minutes from time almost grabbed an equaliser after a burst into the Southampton area and shrugging off two challenges but his low drive flashed across the goalmouth and behind for a goal kick before Moses could arrive to tap home.
It marked the start of a late rally from the visitors, with Southampton pegged back inside their own half for the final 10 minutes, but only a Lampard free-kick, just over the bar, caused the home side any problems and so they hung on for what could be an important victory in their fight for survival. For Chelsea, Manchester United in the FA Cup on Monday just took on even more significance.
Southampton (4-2-3-1): Boruc (K Davis h-t), Clyne, Yoshida, Hooiveld, Shaw; Cork, Schneiderlin; Puncheon (Ward-Prowse 61), S Davis (Fox 84), Rodriguez; Lambert (c)
Unused subs Fonte, Ramírez, Forren, Do Prado.
Goals Rodriguez 23, Lambert 34
Booked Lambert 82, Schneiderlin 87
Chelsea (4-2-3-1): Cech; Azpilicueta, Ivanovic, Terry (c), Bertrand; Mikel (Ramires 71), Lampard; Moses, Oscar (Benayoun 75), Marin (Hazard 60); Torres.
Unused subs Turnbull, Cole, David Luiz, Ba.
Goals Terry 32
Booked Torres 75
Referee Jon Moss