Inside Track: Chelsea vs Saints

By SFC Media Wed 02 Jan Chelsea v Saints
Photo by Paul Childs | Reuters

Chelsea reporter Simon Johnson from London Evening Standard gives us the inside track on Saints' midweek opponents in the Premier League.

What have you made of Chelsea’s season so far and what are the expectations for the rest of it?

I think with the way they started the season there was talk of them being real contenders for the title race but with the more the season has gone and defeats against the likes of Wolves and Leicester more recently, reality started to bite a little bit in December.

It will probably take Maurizio Sarri a couple more transfer windows to really shape the team into his own but they’ve had two good wins in their last two outings though and I think finishing in the top four will be the aim now for the rest of the campaign.

N’Golo Kanté has been used further forward recently. How important has he been and has the approach changed since the start of the season?

Clearly it was always going to take Kanté time to adapt to it because there is far more pressure on him now to make an impact in the final third whether it is playing a through ball or a finish.

That doesn’t come quite as naturally to him as breaking up, winning the ball off the opposition and laying it off to someone else.

There’s no doubt in recent weeks that he’s starting to prove he can play there as he was excellent in the win against Manchester City and scored the winning goal against the Crystal Palace after a tremendous run into the penalty area.


Kante nets the winner against Crystal Palace

I still think the debate will continue as to whether Sarri is getting the best out of Kante but with Jorginho being the big summer buy, I think the manager wants him to be the conductor of the midfield and build the team around him in front of the defence. I don’t think that will change and it’s here to stay.

What sort of a game are you expecting?

If teams can keep Chelsea quiet for long periods then they’ll always fancy their chances on the counter-attack, which is exactly the way Leicester played a couple of weeks ago.

It’s important they respond to Arsenal’s victory in the race for a spot in the top four and Manchester United have had a resurgence since the arrival of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer so they need to come out strongly as they’ve been slow starters of late.

Saints will hope they can keep them quite quiet and the home fans frustrated then they will always have chances. They’ve looked improved under Ralph Hasenhuttl and naturally keeping Eden Hazard will be key as that means you’re halfway to stopping Chelsea.

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