RAMIRES: SAINTS ON SONG
Despite triumphing 5-1 against Southampton only 11 days ago, Ramires is anticipating a testing time at Stamford Bridge this evening.
We met Nigel Adkins's side at St. Mary's in the third round of the FA Cup on January 5, and although we fell behind early on, we came back to win resoundingly. With little time between we will be heavy favourites tonight when we play a fixture originally scheduled for when we were appearing at the Club World Cup in Japan, yet the Brazilian midfielder foresees a tougher examination. Indeed Southampton have lost just two of their previous 11 Premier League fixtures.
'I believe they are going to be extra motivated because they have lost the last game against us at their home, and they will want now to correct this result,' said the 25-year-old. 'We can't expect an easy game despite the last result because we know it will be difficult after what happened there.
'We need to be well concentrated and respect them because we know how difficult it can be. In the last game we fell behind but eventually managed to win. Because they lost in such a way at home they will want to make sure they don't do it again. But, if we keep our focus and play our game we have every chance to win.'
We are without a victory on home soil since the dismantling of Aston Villa on December 23, and while acknowledging other sides come with a more defensive approach, Ramires can find no explanation for the disappointing losses against QPR and Swansea.
'When opponents come to Stamford Bridge they are compact and want to defend, they don't want to lose and that's how they think they will get a result, stopping us from playing,' the midfielder explained.
'It doesn't always work, against Aston Villa we had that huge result, and in the Champions League against Nordsjaelland. Of course they didn't want to lose by many goals, they closed their defence and try to counter-attack, but we were too good.'
A win tonight would strengthen our position in third place behind the two Manchester clubs, while also distancing us from fourth-place Spurs.
'I think it's very important,' said Ramires. 'We have this game in hand and we need to win it so we can not only widen the gap to Tottenham but close the gap to the top two. Hopefully we will do it.'
Tickets for the game are on general sale at the box office until 4pm.