Southampton’s last Premier League fixture ended in a thrilling 2-3 loss at the hands of Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium last weekend. The Saints are three points adrift of safety and must start bagging commendable results if they are to refrain themselves from getting doomed at the end of the season.
Mark Hughes’ men are due to take on Chelsea at St. Mary’s on Saturday and having lost three league games on the trot, Antonio Conte’s entourage is only going to make things tougher for them.
Southampton Team News
Jack Stephens was sent off against the Gunners in injury time and will not be available this weekend. Mario Lemina is ill and although there is a slight doubt, he should be available for the fixture.
While Shane Long is sidelined owing to his ankle injury, Steven Davis is also out with a knock. Besides, Sam McQuinn has a groin injury and will not be available to render his services for his side.
Here is how we expect Hughes to roll out his starting line-up against Chelsea.
Alex McCarthy is expected to be stationed under the bar by Hughes once again. The 28-year-old shot-stopper has collected 2 clean sheets from 12 league outings, making 2 saves per game on an average.
This time around, a four-man defensive wall is likely to be rolled out by Hughes. Wesley Hoedt and Maya Yoshida might find themselves being placed at the heart of the backline. The duo must step up to save the blushes of their side.
Ryan Bertrand has been quite decent from the left-back slot for Southampton this season owing to the attacking edge as well as defensive solidity that he offers. Meanwhile, Cedric Soares is expected to get the nod to start from the right-back.
Oriol Romeu and Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg are anticipated to start from the central defensive midfield. Their primary task will be to cushion the back line meticulously and break Chelsea’s attacking endeavours as effectively as possible.
Besides, they will also have to surge forward occasionally to carve openings. Sofiane Boufal might get the green light to start against the London based club this weekend to offer his attacking and creative prowess in the final third.
Charlie Austin found the back of the net against Arsene Wenger’s men and due to the injury to Long, he is expected to lead the line for Southampton. Austin is a shrewd attacker and how he manages to ply his trade against Chelsea will have a massive say in deciding the outcome of the game.
James Ward-Prowse has the necessary ingredients to make something happen offensively and he is likely to take up the right-wing slot whereas, from the left-wing, Dusan Tadic is expected to showcase his calibre once again.
Statistics Credits: Squawka