Defending FA Cup champions Chelsea head to England’s south coast on Saturday to face Southampton in third-round action of the FA Cup as one of the most anticipated weekends of the English football calendar year kicks off.
The Saints (4-6-10) are just above the relegation zone in 17th place in the English Premier League, but are a deceptively dangerous team, having drawn three straight matches and having allowed two goals or more in a match only one time in the last two months—a 3-3 draw with Stoke City on Dec. 29. In fact, the last time Southampton lost by two or more goals came Nov. 5 when host West Bromwich Albion shut out the Saints, 2-0 at The Hawthorns. In goal for the hosts should be Poland international and former Celtic keeper Artur Boruc, who returned in the club’s 1-1 New Year’s Day draw with Arsenal in his first appearance since Oct. 28.
Chelsea’s goalkeeper will most likely be backup Ross Turnbull, who will be filling in for Petr Čech who will possibly be out for three weeks with a groin injury. The Blues’ extraordinary goalkeeper may also miss the first leg of the Capital One Cup semifinal versus Swansea City and league games against Stoke City and Arsenal, according to ESPNSoccernet.com. Expect Chelsea to be in a foul mood for this one after seeing its four-game win streak rudely interrupted by 20th-place Queens Park Rangers, 1-0 on Wednesday at Stamford Bridge in a game somewhat characteristic of the European champions’ schizophrenic season. The Blues have won four straight meetings against Southampton—outscoring the Saints 10-2 in the process—with the last scheduled meeting between the two teams on Dec. 15 being postponed due to the Blues’ participation in the Club World Cup and provisionally rescheduled on Jan. 16 at Stamford Bridge. However, Chelsea have never beaten Southampton in the FA Cup. One interesting thing to watch in this one is whether or not Chelsea interim manager Rafael Benítez will choose to use new acquisition Demba Ba, who completed a £7 million move to Stamford Bridge from Newcastle United on Thursday night.
Projected Lineups :
Cork, Yoshida, Fonte, Shaw
Puncheon, Ward-Prowse, Ramirez
Azpilicueta, Cahill, Ivanovic, Bertrand
Moses, Oscar, Mata
Key Stats :
- Southampton have never lost to Chelsea in the FA Cup.
- Chelsea haven’t lost to Southampton in the last 6 meetings.
- Chelsea have 3 away defeats to Southampton in the FA Cup.
- Southampton are unbeaten in their last 3 matches (all draws).
- Frank Lampard is 1 goal away from Kerry Dixon for 2nd highest goal scorer in Chelsea history.
Given our struggles against Southampton in this tournament and our recent form combined with their recent form, it should be an interesting match, but nevertheless will end in a 1-1 draw, in my mind. A tough match for us, but a draw isn’t all the bad – it would mean a replay at the Bridge. We’ll see what happens, hopefully Chelsea will win and make it easily on themselves, but I think a 1-1 draw will be the outcome on Saturday.