This article is part of Football FanCast’s The Chalkboard series, which provides a tactical insight into teams, players, managers, potential signings and more…
Southampton welcome Chelsea to St Mary’s this Sunday, with both sides set to be in contrasting spirits.
Ralph Hasenhuttl’s men may be feeling down after losing their last two Premier League games, with the more recent of those two defeats coming against a Tottenham side who had 10 men for over half of the game.
In Chelsea’s case, Frank Lampard won his first ever Champions League game as a manager with a 2-1 win over Lille earlier this week, having also recorded his first clean sheet in the Premier League game with a 2-0 win over Brighton last weekend.
Another player who recorded a personal accolade in the Champions League looks set to start this weekend, and he should cause real problems for one Southampton player.
The Blues academy graduate has grabbed his chance under Lampard with both hands. Abraham has scored seven Premier League goals already this season in just seven appearances, one behind top-scorer Sergio Aguero.
In terms of the aforementioned Champions League accolade, he netted his first goal in the competition with the opener against Lille, taking his tally for the season to an impressive eight goals.
Despite standing at a massive 6 foot 3, the 22-year-old is rapid and has quick feet for a big man – the sharp flip-flap before sealing his hat-trick against Wolves proved that substantially.
One man who should be directly up against Chelsea’s No.9 is Jan Bednarek, a player just one year older than Abraham.
The Poland international was a player transformed following the arrival of Hasenhuttl last season, blossoming from nothing more than a peripheral figure under Mark Hughes into a regular at the heart of defence.
His reputation among the Saints faithful has been perpetually rising to the point in which he became a dark-horse contender for the player of the season award in 2018/19, earning 8% of the fan vote by early May.
But fresh question marks were raised following a lack of communication with Angus Gunn in the 3-1 defeat to Bournemouth, a mishap that allowed Callum Wilson to steal in and score.
Perhaps he will be targeted as a potential week link by the travelling outfit due to his mistake against the Cherries, but that should lend Bednarek the perfect opportunity to showcase his mettle and seek redemption.
With Abraham as sharp and lively as he is in the box, the 6ft 2 defender has to be switched on – his lack of pace will be found out if he is caught napping by the England international.
He will have to be at the top of his game alongside Jannik Vestergaard to nullify the threat of a striker in red-hot form, and his success in an intriguing battle will go a long way to determining the result on Sunday.
If he can silence Abraham, remain mistake free and inspire his side to three points there is no doubt that his previous blunder will be long forgotten.