Get game ready for Saturday's visit of Chelsea to St Mary's with our in-depth match preview...
Southampton vs Chelsea
Saturday 14th April, 12:30pm BST
WHAT’S AT STAKE?
Southampton return to St Mary’s after a five week absence this Saturday, perhaps aggrieved after Arsenal snatched all three points late on last weekend. Nevertheless the nature of the performance would have pleased onlookers, and Mark Hughes rightly praised Saints' character is the aftermath of the defeat.
With the St Mary's clash the early kick-off, there is chance to close the gap on several teams immediately above, namely Crystal Palace and Huddersfield. Hughes's side have a match advantage, which could be used to good effect against Leicester next Thursday, but for now will have attention firmly on Chelsea - who themselves have had a season of mixed fortunes in defence of their title.
The dress rehearsal ahead of next weekend's Wembley showdown, this particular fixture has less significance for Chelsea, who have an unlikely ten point deficit to make up in order to secure a top four spot.
This month's loss to Spurs and draw with West Ham won't have done much to assuage the Chelsea contingent, but the 1-0 scoreline in the reverse fixture suggests that the Blues are more than capable of securing maximum points.
Southampton: Mark Hughes revealed that Steven Davis is the only injury concern ahead of the home clash with Chelsea this weekend. Hughes had hoped to have Davis back with the squad for last weekend's meeting with Arsenal but he will not be available for selection once more.
The return of Charlie Austin will be most welcome to the manager, after he came off the bench to score at the Emirates, while Maya Yoshida's return is also timely, given that Jack Stephens will now serve a three match ban after last week's dismissal.
Chelsea: Antonio Conte has no fresh injury concerns for the trip to take on Saints, but did provide an update on Danny Drinkwater.
The former Leicester midfielder had problems with his calf earlier in the campaign and is now struggling with a groin injury that means he remains out for this weekend.
Southampton’s previous five:
Arsenal (a) L 3-2
West Ham (a) L 3-0
Wigan (a) W 2-0 (FA Cup)
Newcastle (a) L 3-0
Stoke (h) D 0-0
Chelsea's previous five:
West Ham (h) D 1-1
Spurs (h) L 3-1
Leicester City (a) W 2-1 (FA Cup)
Barcelona (a) L 3-0 (Champions League)
Crystal Palace (h) W 2-1
Charlie Austin has scored four goals in his last four Premier League appearances at St Mary’s, though he’s not played there since December. He also came off the bench at Arsenal to net an equalising goal and will hope to regain a starting berth this weekend. The form of the frontman may yet be the difference for Saints as they embark upon a tough Premier League run-in.
Shane Long was also on target at the Emirates, and will fancy his chances of a first XI shirt against Chelsea, with a vital three points on offer.
Top scorers: Charlie Austin (7), James Ward-Prowse (4) Steven Davis, Jack Stephens, Manolo Gabbiadini, Dušan Tadić (all 3)
Most assists: Ryan Bertrand (3), Nathan Redmond (3), Dušan Tadić (3)
Eden Hazard had been the forward that Blues relied on for the first-half of the season, but the Belgian has enjoyed assistance from an ever improving Willian of late.
The 29-year-old winger hasn't scored in Chelsea's previous four, but netted five across mid-Feb and early March, filling the void left by the injured Alvaro Morata.
Willian continued his good form during the international break, providing the assist for the decisive goal as Brazil swept aside European heavyweights Germany.
Top scorers: Eden Hazard (11), Alvaro Morata (11), Marcos Alonso (6), Willian (6)
Most assists: César Azpilicueta (6), Willian (6), Alvaro Morata (6), Cesc Fàbregas (4)
Previous five meetings:
Oct 2015: Chelsea 1-3 Southampton
Feb 2016: Southampton 1-2 Chelsea
Oct 2016: Southampton 0-2 Chelsea
April 2017: Chelsea 4-2 Southampton
Dec 2017: Chelsea 1-0 Southampton
DID YOU KNOW?
- Mark Hughes could become the third manager to beat Chelsea in the Premier League with four different clubs (after Roy Hodgson and Sam Allardyce), having previously beaten them with Blackburn, Man City and Stoke.
- Cesar Azpilicueta and Álvaro Morata have now combined for seven Premier League goals this season – in only one previous season have two Chelsea players combined for more (Frank Lampard and Didier Drogba in 2005-06, 8).
NOT AT THE GAME?
Not able to make it to St Mary's on Saturday? We’ll be with you every step of the way on our interactive match centre at southamptonfc.com, where we will have all the build-up, as well as in-game updates and free live audio commentary.
Additionally, be sure to follow us on our various social channels for behind-the-scenes access and further updates: