By Dominic Toner
Chelsea host Southampton in the Premier League on Tuesday night and Tottenham are sure to be cheering on the visitors.
Spurs travel to Crystal Palace on Wednesday in the league and could be just one point behind the leaders if results go their way during the week.
The Blues are currently at the summit of the table and have the chance to stretch their four-point advantage over Spurs.
However, Antonio Conte’s side have lost two of their last four league matches and are starting to feel the pressure of a title race.
Here, Football Insider analyses three Southampton players that could cause further pain on Chelsea in their crucial league encounter.
Southampton forward Manolo Gabbiadini is his side’s greatest attacking threat and should pose many questions for the Chelsea defence. The 25-year-old has made a sensational start to life with the Saints and has scored six goals in his first six matches for the club. He looks like a natural finisher and has shown his ability to score all sorts of goals. Southampton manager Claude Puel welcome back the striker in the club’s last game as he played 60 minutes, meaning he could be closer towards full fitness on Tuesday. Chelsea’s defence has shown a vulnerability in recent months and it would be no surprise if Gabbiadini is presented with a couple of chances, but he is the kind of player that is clinical in front of goal.
Defender Ryan Bertand has been one of Southampton’s most consistent players since his arrival in 2015, when he left Chelsea. The left-back showed signs of his quality at Stamford Bridge and has continued to grow away from the Premier League leaders. He has become an integral part of the Saints starting line-up and will relish facing his former side. The Blues pair Victor Moses and Pedro are usually so effective down the right flank, but Bertand has the qualities to contend with them. The left-back is solid defensively and his overlapping runs mean he will ask questions going the other way.
Southampton midfielder Oriol Romeu is another former Chelsea player and he never really impressed during his time in London. However, he is thriving with the Saints and Puel has compared him to N’Golo Kante. The combative midfielder will return from suspension and give Southampton a major boost. He has been in great form this season and has become important in screening the defence, meaning the likes of Eden Hazard and Pedro could find it difficult to find space. Romeu may feel he has a point to prove to doubters from Stamford Bridge and it would be no surprise to see him turn in a man-of-the-match display in the clash.
In other Tottenham news, the club’s supporters reacted to N’Golo Kante winning the PFA Player of the Year award.