PL2 Preview: Chelsea vs Saints

time Fri 22 Jan Chelsea vs Saints
Photo by Isabelle Field | Pascal Kpohomouh

Southampton’s B team return to Premier League 2 action for the first time in 2021 this weekend, visiting league leaders Chelsea on Sunday.

THE MATCH

Chelsea vs Saints B
Premier League 2
Cobham Training Centre
Sunday 24th January, 5.30pm GMT

After experiencing a longer than planned Christmas break, Dave Horseman’s side will have a welcome return to Premier League 2 action this weekend as they travel to Chelsea on Sunday afternoon.

Their first competitive fixture of 2021 will lie 43 days following Saints’ last outing in the competition; a Nathan Tella inspired 5-2 win over Leicester City at Snows Stadium.

The young forward scored four goals in the opening 41 minutes without reply from the visitors as Horseman’s side went on to win 5-2.

It was a similarly fruitful day for Sunday’s hosts Chelsea last-time-out, dominanting Manchester United 6-1 at Kingsmeadow.

Marcel Lewis and Tino Anjorin both got two, as Jude Soonsup-Bell and Charlie Brown completed the scoring, meaning it’s just one defeat in the last five for the side currently top of the division.

SOUTHAMPTON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 12: Southampton players celebrate Nathan Tella goal during the Premier League 2 match between Southampton B Team and Leicester City at Snows Stadium on December 12, 2020 in Southampton, England. (Photo by Isabelle Field/Southampton FC via Getty Images)
Saints players congratulate Nathan Tella during his dominant display against Leicester.

LAST MEETING

Saints’ last outing against Sunday’s hosts came on the second day of the current PL2 season.

Chelsea took an early lead at Snows Stadium after just two minutes, before Josh Sims levelled the scores only five minutes.

From then on in Chelsea dominated proceedings, the game finishing 4-1 to the visitors following further goals courtesy of Thierno Ballo and a Myles Peart-Harris double.

On the previous meeting, Horseman recalled: “It was the biggest learning curve for some of these boys. We obviously played Arsenal at the start of the season and completely dominated territory, the ball, we regained the ball so fast.

“We were still using a high press and they caught us and deservedly won on the night through maybe our naivety rather than some of their good play.”

SOUTHAMPTON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 18: Caleb Watts of Southampton during the Premier League 2 match between Southampton FC B Team and Chelsea FC at Snows Stadium on September 18, 2020 in Southampton, England. (Photo by Isabelle Field/Southampton FC via Getty Images)
Caleb Watts battles for possession during the last meeting with Sunday's opponents.

MANAGER’S NOTES

There was plenty for Horseman to dissect when he sat down to preview Sunday’s fixture.

Despite not playing at PL2 level in over a month it has been a period of success for the Academy, something Horseman was proud to be a part of.

“The boys who have gone up have really bought into the programme,” he said.

“I was reading an old article where we spoke about the B team not just being a name change but it is actually a way of working.

“If that was a message for everyone else in our Academy it’s really believe in what we’re doing because you can be successful if you try to stick to the way we want to play.”

“I’m sure the boys are so happy for those who were involved against Shrewsbury but it has to be motivation.

“There’s a clear pathway at Southampton, if you’re good enough and you buy in and your attitude is perfect on and off the pitch there’s definitely opportunities for you here.

On Sunday’s opponents, Horseman was under no illusion of their quality.

“Chelsea are probably the most adaptable 23s team and Academy. I know their Academy pretty well because I had a son that played in it for a long time.

“They want to win, and rightly so at this age, and they can adapt to different opponents. We were still using a high press and they caught us and deservedly won on the night through maybe our naivety rather than some of their good play.

“I thought we had good periods but they’re obviously, with Man City, the best two by a mile in terms of winning at youth level.

“They’re top of the league, beat Manchester United 6-1 last game. So a real tough one and it will be predominately some 18s and under-19s [for us], but we expect high standards.

“We’ve got some really good players in there, some really good players, who will be fine for the future so will be a really good learning curve I’m sure.”

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