Leaders Chelsea will be aiming for a fourth consecutive Premier League win when they make the trip to a Southampton side rejuvenated over the festive period.
There were glimpses during the comprehensive win over Everton, but Ronald Koeman’s men showed that they were truly back in business when putting Crystal Palace to the sword on Boxing Day, capped by a number of outstanding individual performances.
The three scorers were evidence of the fantastic business that Koeman did in the summer, and Toby Alderweireld in particular was on top form at Selhurst Park. He will need to be again here though, in a game where fine margins are likely to decide the outcome.
For all of Southampton’s excellence on Boxing Day, some of the football Chelsea played against West Ham United was simply jaw-dropping, and only good goalkeeping and last-ditch defending prevented them from winning by a huge scoreline.
On that evidence, it will take something special to stop the Blues this season, with Eden Hazard’s trickery bamboozling opposition defences and Nemanja Matic a total colossus in the midfield. Indeed, the whole squad appears at the top of their game.
Southampton are without Ryan Bertrand as he cannot play against his parent club. Meanwhile, Jack Cork and Jay Rodriguez are sidelined by injury.
The visitors still have a near fully-fit squad to choose from, but manager Jose Mourinho may choose to rotate by giving starts to the likes of Filipe Luis, John Obi Mikel and Andre Schurrle.
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