Having guided Southampton to wins over Manchester City and Liverpool a success against Chelsea would complete a remarkable hat trick for Mauricio Pochettino at St Mary’s. Despite registering only two victories in his eight games as manager the Argentinian has certainly picked his moments. It was against Saturday’s opponents that the Saints produced, arguably, their best performance of the season in what proved to be Nigel Adkins’ final game as boss. That will undoubtedly linger in the player’s minds as will the lingering threat of relegation. Although its unlikely the South Coast will go down they need to put a bigger cushion between them and the bottom three just to be safe going into the final stages of the campaign.
On the subject of mid-season managerial changes you’d have to say Chelsea haven’t experienced the smooth transition their hosts enjoyed. However, despite the ill feeling towards Rafael Benitez, the Blues are only four points shy of second place Manchester City and could close that gap with a win at Southampton. Having claimed back-to-back wins and clean sheets in the league there is a chance to build some momentum heading into the campaign’s final act. Benitez will be aware is little margin for error and his side can’t afford to slip up at St Mary’s. With three other teams chasing Champions League football all Chelsea have to do is continue to pick up points, although that is easier said than done.
Adam Lallana, Luke Shaw and Jos Hooiveld are all carrying knocks and are considered touch and go for Southampton. Vegard Forren could be in line for his Saints debut.
Gary Cahill (knee) and Ramires (thigh) will be assessed before kick off with Rafael Benitez thought to be pondering whether to reshuffle his Chelsea side.
What the managers said…
Prediction: Southampton 1-3 Chelsea