Chelsea vs. Southampton: Three Key Player Battles That Will Decide The Game

Chelsea were knocked out in incredible circumstances by PSG as they drew 2-2 at home and conceded a couple of away goals. The game was a disappointing one for Chelsea as they failed to step up their game and concentration in the game even after PSG’s star man Zlatan Ibrahimovic getting red carded in 30 minutes.

Though it means another trophy out of the books for Chelsea, it would also mean that Chelsea have to solely concentrate on the Premier League, and are in a very promising position to win it come May. Mourinho wouldn’t want his team to lose focus and surrender the lead at the top, and would go into the match against Saints hoping that his team is at its best.

The Saints have had a good season so far, camping in and around the top 6 positions in the table, and would be tricky opponents for the league leading Chelsea. Ronald Koeman’s men held Chelsea to a draw at St. Mary’s earlier this season and it would be wise not to underestimate a team of their caliber. Here are the key player battles expected for the game.

  1. Eden Hazard vs. Nathaniel Clyne

Hazard, who’s  Chelsea’s and the Premier League’s best dribbler and arguably the best player as well, would be face to face against the league’s most consistent Right Backs. Hazard has been as outstanding as ever and has a strong influence on how Chelsea approaches their build-ups in the final third.

Hazard likes cutting in and creating chances, or space for teammates and if not, he’d take a shot on goal. Clyne would have to be aware of this danger, while also being active in attack and exploit the occasional defensive unawareness that Hazard is prone to. Hazard on the other hand, can be extremely dangerous when he is allowed to charge at central defenders. Clyne may well be adventurous and rely on his pace to track back and put in tackles at times, but against Hazard’s speed and trickery, it can be really tough.

Clyne would be aware of this threat and it is very likely that the Saints will focus more on defensive pressing and counter attacking, than trying to take initiative at Stamford Bridge.

  1. Cesc Fabregas vs. Morgan Schneiderlin

Fabregas is the one who runs the play for Chelsea, but has been subdued lately after his injury returns and the overall fatigue that the team is suffering from. Still, he remains a player who can be extremely effective with his passing and can spot a key pass very quickly.

Schneiderlin on the other hand controls the midfield for the Saints. His energy and defensive work in the deep midfield would be crucial for Saints to negate Fabregas’ influence in midfield. He would have to be sharp to intercept passes or mark the players who are likely to receive passes from Cesc.

  1. Branislav Ivanovic vs. Dusan Tadic


Most probably the two Serbs would be pitted against each other on the wings. While Ivanovic has proved himself to be a top class Right Back, and has been a proven top quality defender in the Premier League, Chelsea’s recent style of play has seen him be more offensive and has led to his wing being an open channel for opposition wingers to attack.

Tadic has been a key player for the Saints this season and has been occupying the attacking midfield or the wings. He is likely to drift to Ivanovic’s spot to exploit the space, and the Chelsea Right Back would need to be wary of the threat. As Mourinho usually knows his opponents well, we can expect Ivanovic to be pretty close to his spot to give Tadic a good battle, like he does to all his wingers whenever he has balanced his priorities.

Written by Dinesh V

Co-founder of Soccersouls. Living a start-up life 24/7
Follow @dineshintwit

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