Late drama: Three things to expect from Chelsea in clash V Southampton
COMMENT by Russell Edge
Chelsea take on Southampton on Tuesday night as the Blues look to take one step closer to securing the Premier League title.
Fresh off the back of their FA Cup semi-final victory over fellow title hopefuls Tottenham, Antonio Conte’s side know that the fate of the league title is in their hands, as they stand four points clear at the top of the table.
However, one mistake and Spurs will be right on their tails, so it is up to the Blues to remain focused and pick up the necessary results in their remaining six fixtures.
This starts on Tuesday night at Stamford Bridge as Southampton journey into London searching for three points which could help push them up the table.
As with any game in the Premier League, anything could happen, but here are three things we expect:
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Late, late goals
Both sides have enjoyed the final 15 minutes of their matches in the Premier League, and this is where they’ve scored a lot of their goals this season.
Southampton have scored over a quarter of their league goals in minutes approaching the final whistle, while Chelsea have scored just over a fifth of their goals in this period.
As such, a late goal or two ought to be expected.
An Eden Hazard strike
The diminutive Belgian has hit top form going into the final stretch of the season, and has scored or assisted eight goals in his last eight matches.
Starting from the bench for the semi-final victory over Tottenham, Hazard came on to great effect to score one and assist another.
Chelsea are always likely to score at Stamford Bridge, having only failed on two occasions this season, and with this in mind it is likely to be the in-form Belgian who finds his name on the scoresheet.
A big Chelsea win
Despite coming off the back of an FA Cup tie which on paper will have tired the Blues’ players out, it is likely to act as a great morale boost.
With stars Diego Costa and Eden Hazard rested and returning, Southampton face the prospect of a resurgent Chelsea side roared on by a joyous Stamford Bridge crowd.
The Saints, who are still missing key man Virgil van Dijk at the heart of the defence, were easily beaten by Manchester City in their last match and Chelsea are arguably an even tougher test than the Sky Blues.
However, with Manolo Gabbiadini leading the line for Claude Puel’s side, they have every chance of sneaking a goal, so they should be expected to put at least one of their chances away.
- Football Insider prediction: Chelsea 4-1 Southampton
In other Chelsea news, three Blues stars are expected to return to the starting XI for their clash with the Saints.