Southampton take on Chelsea on Sunday evening at St. Mary’s Stadium as a tough test awaits the Blues. Antonio Conte’s men go into the fixture on the back of a League Cup defeat and exit to West Ham midweek but will be willing to prove a point at St Mary’s by putting on a good show to remain in contention around the top four.
Chelsea head into the game without midfield maestro Cesc Fabregas, although Ivanovic is fully fit. These two haven’t featured since the humiliation against Arsenal and missing three consecutive Premier League victories against Hull, Leicester and the most recent drubbing of Manchester United.
The onus to provide a spark and would be on star winger Eden Hazard. With his close control, pace, strength and alertness of player’s on the pitch, the Belgian will be a handful for the Saint’s defense if he is given space and time. He managed to get on the score sheet last weekend with a trademark Hazard goal finished into the far corner of the net over former boss Jose Mourinho took his tally to four in the Premier League.
There has been speculation of the 25 year old Belgian over his consistency, as he disappeared last season after a string of poor performances and was dropped out of the squad, but there is no doubt about the quality and threat he possesses when in form.
Diego Costa is another key player to watch out for as the Chelsea striker has scored when his team needing him most, he is currently the joint top goal scorer in the league with Sergio Aguero but can overtake him if he gets on the score sheet on Sunday.
His last goal came against Leicester over two weeks ago as he missed out on scoring opportunities against Manchester United. But the striker is known for his competitive nature on the field, with him tussling and fighting for every bits of scrap. With seven goals in nine appearances, the blues rely heavily on the Brazilian born striker for goals. The feisty center forward will be looking to get this team over the line at St. Mary’s.
The Blue’s manager has failed to confirm if captain John Terry will remain in his starting line-up, Terry who has been with the club for more than 18 years returned for Chelsea to face West Ham in the EFL cup after a six week long injury where it ended 2-1 in favor of the hammers.
Terry may have had a problem adapting to the new system or may have lacked match fitness causing Slaven Bilic’s men to run rampant on the Chelsea defense.
Conte faces a dilemma in the new approached 3-man defense as Gary Cahill, David Luiz and Cesar Azpilicueta which has seen the trio and system excel in the absence of the Chelsea legend.
Sunderland have won just two of their last 14 games against Chelsea, although they did beat the blues in October 2015, a year ago.