Chelsea’s last match against Southampton was something of a tipping point. Southampton had been good up to that point but had yet to truly break through. Chelsea was struggling. The Blues exploded in the first half before completely floundering in the second. The Blues went on to have a great run of form shortly thereafter whereas the Saints went from strength to strength.
But what goes up, must come down. Chelsea started their crash in December and it ultimately saw Frank Lampard sacked and Thomas Tuchel in near the end of January. Southampton’s moment of being too close to the sun was defeating Liverpool in the narrowest of ways. Since then, they have lost six straight Premier League matches with a 9-0 stuffed within.
Both teams are on very different trajectories and much has changed since last time. What key clashes will determine whether Chelsea continues their run or Southampton reverses their fortunes?
1. You’re the press around, nothing’s gonna ever keep you down
Chelsea’s been pressed with Thomas Tuchel in charge. Tottenham and Sheffield United found moments to push the Blues back and Barnsely did so constantly. In those moments, Chelsea tended to back down a wilt a bit but in all three, the Blues ultimately got the result they wanted.
Tuchel’s Chelsea hasn’t been pressed in the way Southampton are going to press though. Few teams in the league are as constant or aggressive in their attempts to not only win the ball back, but almost court opportunities to do so. In a way, Chelsea will be facing a mirror in that as their pressing improves (more on that thread momentarily).
This game will be press heavy from both sides and it may simply be decided by the team that presses the most effectively. Chelsea is a bit newer to this level of pressing and Southampton’s has gotten them in more trouble than not as of late, but expected it to be a bit of a back and forth encounter. Chelsea can’t afford to back down like they have in recent matches to pressure and Southampton are desperate to turn their fortunes around. Being able to win and keep possession the most is usually the key in any match but it will be even more vital in this one.