PMB: Southampton v Chelsea - tactics
news Sat 14 Apr 2018
We conclude our Pre-Match Briefing for today's early kick-off...
• As is the nature of football, these two teams may be sick of the sight of each other by the end of next weekend’s FA Cup semi-final.
• Antonio Conte will hope to arrest his team’s disappointing form – the champions would be 14th on a league table of form over the past 10 matches (Southampton 16th), and have not managed a clean sheet in five Premier League outings.
• If changes are to be made, the likes of Andreas Christensen, Pedro, Olivier Giroud, Tiemoue Bakayoko, Davide Zappacosta and Ross Barkley will be pushing for involvement with a place at Wembley in the offing. However, Eden Hazard and Alvaro Morata linked well against West Ham and for the second week running, a Victor Moses cross was crucial to the Blues opening the scoring.
• This season’s statistics indicate the hosts are not strong in the air, whereas Chelsea have scored the most headers in the top flight this season.
• Recently appointed Southampton manager Mark Hughes has used a formation that sets up in a 5-4-1 without the ball, changing to five forwards when attacking, the front three playing very narrowly.
• While Charlie Austin was injured and Shane Long endured a difficult spell in front of goal, big winter signing Guido Carrillo did not set the Solent alight. The Argentine striker was left out entirely at Arsenal last weekend.
• Creativity has appeared to be an issue, though Austin, the only Saints player with more than four league goals under his belt this season, came on and scored with his first touch against Arsenal. Wing-back Cedric Soares’ crosses set up both goals – his first assists of the campaign.
• The loss of defensive players Victor Wanyama, Jose Fonte and Virgil van Dijk in recent times may be more keenly felt over the next few matches as Jack Stephens is suspended. The central defender responded to Jack Wilshere’s shirt-tugging with a shove that led to a straight red card. His absence may force a switch to a back four.
• The Saints central defence has been considered vulnerable to counter-attacks and passes through the middle. The Saints did show character, determination and aggression in defeat at the Emirates, and they committed almost twice as many fouls as the hosts: 16 against nine. Having failed to register a shot on target in the six-pointer at West Ham a fortnight ago, they also peppered the Gunners’ goal at every opportunity.
OLD BOY BLUES
• Ryan Bertrand’s heroic performance on the left wing against Robben and Lahm in the 2012 Champions League final earned him a standing ovation from travelling fans when subbed. Amazingly, he became a medal-winner on his European debut.
• Oriol Romeu scored a second-half penalty in Chelsea’s 6-0 League Cup thrashing of Wolves in September 2012, the day after his 21st birthday.
• Mark Hughes was a star striker in the late 90s for his boyhood club, playing in the Blues’ FA Cup and League Cup final wins and earning the team a Cup Winners’ Cup final berth with a stunning volley against Vicenza.
• One of three ever-presents in the 1983/84 promotion team, Eddie Niedzwiecki was among the best goalkeepers in the league until injury wrecked his career in 1987.