The weekend brings Chelsea’s first Sunday 1.30pm kick-off of the season. Club historian Rick Glanvill and club statistician Paul Dutton are ready for an early start…
Adherents of Manchester City could be forgiven for feeling their chances of overhauling the league leaders diminished with Wednesday’s outcome. The Blues led Paris Saint-Germain three times in the tie and were never behind over the 210 minutes. Such are knockout competitions, and the parallel with our 10-man rally at Barcelona in 2012 is stark.
So there will be no quarter- or semi-final midweek distractions now for the Londoners. The Chelsea title train has now had several stops removed from its timetable and hopefully that will make it more likely to stay on track till mid-May.
These 1.30 Sunday kick-offs can have a soporific air to them, though the crowd’s mood may be affected by what has happened the night before, when the Citizens play at Burnley. Whatever the outcome the Blues need to blast away the bad memories of midweek, on the pitch and in the stands, and quickly.
The Blues have opened the scoring in all 15 games since facing Southampton at St Mary’s on 28 December. We have gone on to win eight of them, drawn five and lost two. The Saints occupied a Champions League slot back then but problems finding the net since have seen them slip to seventh. They have lost three of their last six games but won four of their last five on the road.
Ronald Koeman’s men have lost six of the nine games so far against sides above them in the table, but beat Arsenal at home and Man United at Old Trafford. The reverse of this fixture at Christmas also ended in a draw.
While the Blues were bowing out of Europe after extra time, a 10-day break allowed the Southampton players to be taken to the Swiss ski resort, Davos, for a team-bonding trip.
Chelsea are five points clear at the top with a game in hand thanks to Eden Hazard’s winner at West Ham 11 days ago. The Belgian has scored or set up 10 goals in his last 12 league games and has been spellbinding this season.
How valuable might his third headed goal for Chelsea prove in the final analysis? It was watched from the stands by Trevor Brooking, another whose rare use of the head meant so much to his club in the 1980 FA Cup final.
Also at the Boleyn Ground Jose Mourinho became the fastest manager to reach 100 Premier League clean sheets. The Chelsea boss’s century took 29 games fewer than closest rival Sir Alex Ferguson and, remarkably, his team have managed a shutout in 54 per cent of league matches.
The Blues managed a record Premier League 25 during Mourinho’s successful first season, 2004/05. This season Chelsea and Southampton have both managed a league high of 13.
Premier League matches to reach 100 clean sheets
Jose Mourinho 185
Alex Ferguson 214
Rafael Benitez 222
Arsene Wenger 234
George Graham 265
David Moyes 305
Martin O’Neill 314
Steve Bruce 343
Sam Allardyce 357
Harry Redknapp 380
It is noses that two of our players need to keep clean over the coming weeks. Cesc Fabregas’s yellow card during our win at the Boleyn Ground was his ninth, while Diego Costa is on eight. Accruing 10 before 12 April will result in an immediate two-game ban.
After this weekend Chelsea have three further domestic matches to play before the deadline: Hull, Stoke and QPR.
Arsenal knocking Manchester United out of the FA Cup confirms we will play the Red Devils over the semi-finals weekend, a televised match at 5.30pm on Saturday 18 April.
Do look out for the matchday programme this Sunday celebrating our club’s 110th anniversary with dozens of great memories and a cover based on those from the early days.
Special guests in the Directors’ Box will be six direct descendants of three founding fathers of the club: Joseph Mears, Edwin Janes and Fred Parker, who also edited the Chelsea Chronicle, as the programme was called back then.
It is fitting that Saints should be the visitors as George Thomas, a former Saints board member and builder and owner of the Dell, was also one of the first directors of Chelsea FC in 1905. The wealthy provisions merchant was an ex-pat Londoner who joined the Navy before earning his fortune selling fish and other comestibles to the burgeoning transatlantic liners trade.
Second-placed Man City play on Saturday evening at Burnley, who recently and controversially earned a draw at the Bridge, before concluding their Champions League tie at Barcelona on Wednesday.
Barclays Premier League fixtures
Crystal Palace v QPR 12.45pm - BT Sport
Arsenal v West Ham 3pm
Leicester v Hull 3pm
Sunderland v Aston Villa 3pm
West Brom v Stoke 3pm
Burnley v Manchester City 5.30pm - Sky Sports
Chelsea v Southampton 1.30pm - Sky Sports
Everton v Newcastle 4pm
Manchester United v Tottenham 4pm - Sky Sports
Swansea v Liverpool 8pm - Sky Sports
Barclays Premier League table - top half
Race for the Premier League Golden Boot
Diego Costa 17
Sergio Aguero (Man City) 17
Harry Kane (Tottenham) 16
Charlie Austin (QPR) 15
Alexis Sanchez (Arsenal) 13
Top Premier League clean sheets
West Brom 11
CHELSEA IN NUMBERS
Chelsea have kept 16 clean sheets in our last 21 Barclays Premier League games at Stamford Bridge, conceding just seven goals.
We have opened the scoring in 21 of our 27 Premier League matches this term, the most in the top-flight.
Cesc Fabregas has assisted 28 goals for the Blues in all competitions this term.
Eden Hazard has completed 122 successful dribbles in the Premier League, 34 more than Arsenal’s Alexis Sanchez.
Premier League scorers 57
Diego Costa 17, Hazard 10 (2 pens), Oscar 6, Ivanovic 4, Drogba 3, Remy 3, Schurrle 3, Terry 3, Fabregas 2, Willian 2, Cahill 1, Matic 1, Ramires 1, own goal 1
League games since
A home win: 1
A home draw: 0
A home defeat: 14
If Chelsea avoid defeat we will reach 4,000 points in the top flight. We currently have 3,999 points from 3,235 First Division and Premier League games.
SOUTHAMPTON IN NUMBERS
1 FA Cup in 1976
Southampton’s best season was in 1983/84, when they finished runners-up to Liverpool in the old First Division.
Saints are the only team not to concede a penalty in the Premier League this term.
Ronald Koeman’s side have hit the woodwork 14 times in the league this season, more than any other side.
Southampton have only dropped two points from winning positions this season (to Chelsea at St Mary’s), less than any other Premier League side.
They have conceded one headed goal in the Premier League this term.
Saints have conceded 10 goals in 13 away league matches, five fewer than any other side.
Southampton have scored two goals in their last six Premier League games.
They have won 22 points from their 13 away games with seven wins at West Ham, Swansea, Hull, Crystal Palace, Man United, Newcastle and QPR, one draw with Aston Villa and five defeats to Liverpool, Tottenham, Arsenal, Burnley and West Brom.
Jose Fonte has made more interceptions (81) than any other Premier League player.
Manager Ronald Koeman
Days in charge 272
Premier League scorers (39)
Pelle 8, Mane 6, own goals 4, Schneiderlin 3, Tadic 3, Wanyama 3, Bertrand 2, Clyne 2, Cork 2, Elia 2, Long 2, Alderweireld 1, Yoshida 1.
League games since
An away win: 1
An away draw: 7
An away defeat: 0
Saints completed January transfers
Ins Eljero Elia (Werder Bremen, loan), Filip Djuricic (Benfica, loan), Ryan Bertrand (Chelsea, undisclosed).
Outs Artur Boruc (Bournemouth, loan extension), Jos Hooiveld (Millwall, loan), Jack Cork (Swansea, undisclosed).
THE MAN IN THE MIDDLE
Mike Dean is refereeing his first Chelsea game in 2015. His two Blues games this season were before Christmas: the 3-0 win against Tottenham at Stamford Bridge and the draw with Manchester City at the Etihad in September.
There are no suspensions.
Ten yellow cards accrued by the second Sunday of April results in a two-match suspension.
Fabregas 9, Diego Costa 8, Matic 7, Ivanovic 6, Oscar 5, Cahill 4, Ramires 4, Schurrle 3, Willian 3, Drogba 2, Hazard 2, Terry 2, Ake 1, Azpilicueta 1, Courtois 1, Cuadrado 1, Filipe Luis 1, Mikel 1.