Chelsea strikers Demba Ba and Fernando Torres are available for the Barclays Premier League clash with Southampton following their struggle with a hamstring injury and illness respectively. John Terry’s comeback from a knee problem will continue, although he is short of match fitness and is unlikely to start at Stamford Bridge. Nigeria duo John Obi Mikel and Victor Moses are unavailable as they are at the African Nations Cup. Chelsea will reduce the gap between themselves and Premier League leaders Manchester United to 11 points if they defeat Southampton, but Rafa Benitez is refusing to look at the table :
“I don’t like to see the table every weekend. It’s important that we keep winning games and we do that by playing well and scoring goals,” he said.
“The stats are quite good – we are scoring a lot of goals and not conceding too many. That is the balance we were looking for.
“We want three points from every game and then we’ll see where we are in a few weeks.”
The Saints were on the receiving end of a 5-1 thrashing when Chelsea visited the south coast in the third round of the FA Cup earlier this month, but boss Nigel Adkins does not feel that result will have any bearing on tomorrow’s game.
He said: “It is a league game and that was an FA Cup game and for 40 minutes we did all right and kept the ball and then conceded, from our point of view, two goals too easily.”
Chelsea have already been active in the transfer market this month and Adkins is backing Rafael Benitez’s side to be in the title picture come the end of the season, even though the Spaniard has had a rough ride from supporters since taking charge of the European champions.
“I think with the addition of Demba Ba now and whoever else they might bring in they look a very well-equipped side to go for the title,” he said.
“It will be an interesting one but obviously he (Benitez) has started well in respect that they have won games, he is a good manager and has won the European Cup and the team play good.
“They have got exceptionally good football players who play good football and if you give them half an opportunity they will capitalise on that.”
Adkins confirmed club captain Adam Lallana is back in light training but refused to give an expected comeback date. He also suggested Luke Shaw will be missing for the trip to Stamford Bridge after leaving the field on a stretcher with a gashed knee in Saturday’s win over Aston Villa.
Probable Lineups :
Ivanovic, Terry, Luiz, Cole
Hazard, Mata, Bertrand
Clyne, Yoshida, Hooiveld, Fox
Puncheon, Cork, Schneiderlin, Ramirez
Key Stats :
- Chelsea’s 5-1 FA Cup win over Southampton was the Blues’ biggest ever win over Saints.
- The Stamford Bridge side have won their last five matches against Southampton in all competitions; their last defeat to Saints coming at home on New Year’s Day 2002.
- The Blues have beaten the south coast side 20 times at home, with 12 draws and 12 victories for the visitors.
- Frank Lampard notched his 194th Chelsea goal in the 4-0 win at Stoke, moving him ahead of Blues legend Kerry Dixon to second on Chelsea’s all-time top scorer list.
- Nigel Adkins’ side have taken 17 points out of a possible 33, losing only two of their last 11 Premier League games.
- Rickie Lambert’s penalty against Aston Villa – his ninth Premier League goal of the season – maintained his 100 per cent record from the spot, with 29 spot-kicks scored out of 29.
Poor home form and flying away form is Chelsea’s recent story and with rumours of Benitez leaving Chelsea for Real Madrid in the summer pouring in, Rafa could already have his eye on the Bernabeu instead of the Bridge. Regardless of that, Southampton was brushed aside when we met them in the FA Cup and for this make-up match I see 3-1 Chelsea