Southampton will host Chelsea at the St. Mary’s tomorrow in what promises to be a staunch battle between two clubs with unlike philosophy yet similar ambition, i.e., to climb up the ladder in the league table and vehemently establish themselves as a threatening force domestically. After nine game weeks, the Saints looked quite convincing as they elevated to the eight spot, whereas the Blues paved their way to the top four.
Despite not being a fixture which brags about a large column in the dailies, Southampton squaring off against Chelsea would be one of the most intense battles of the league so far and here are three reasons why.
Underdogs? Not Anymore!
Despite losing their best men every season, Southampton somehow find a way to impress the football fraternity. This time around, Claude Puel has assembled a side with marginal drawbacks and should not be taken lightly by any club. They are unbeaten in their last five outings and so far this season, the Saints have been invincible at home which implies that it would take something remarkable from Chelsea to bag even a single point from this fixture.
Two Tactical Masters Collide
Puel has injected a sense of urgency in his team’s style of play. What has been evident so far is that the Southampton players keep moving all around the pitch constantly and once they have the ball, they pass the ball quickly up the pitch instead of moving sideways. At the same time, they have been rigid and impenetrable at the back which combine together to make them a complete package.
On the other hand, the Pensioners have started to excel after they have been putting Antonio Conte’s 3-5-2 philosophy into practice. Marcos Alonso and Victor Moses bursting down the wings; N’Golo Kanté is chalked to sit in front of the back line. After the demolition by Arsenal, their attackers have catered to the urgency of their side and can upset the home fans tomorrow.
Van Dijk vs Costa
The unstoppable force meets the immovable object at St. Mary’s and unarguably, the clash would be an epic encounter. Virgil van Dijk has been a prolific signing ever since making the move from Celtic to establish himself as one of the best defenders in the Premier League. 12 tackles, 24 interceptions, 7 clearances and 8 blocks: some notable stats these are.
Diego Costa will cause troubles to the Dutch central defender, making the encounter a feisty one. The Spaniard has been delivering without making much of his nuisance and will play a major role against Puel’s team as he will look forth to adding goals to his tally, seven of which he has accumulated already.
Statistics Credits: Squawka