Chelsea vs Southampton at Stamford Bridge. Our first game back since the international fixtures, however what lineup might we expect. In this article, I will give you my predictions as well as the reasoning behind my decisions.
So firstly, the goalkeeper position. An area of the team which caused a lot of headaches for manager Frank Lampard last season, however with the signing of Mendy from Rennes, his nightmares seemed to be over, that was until Mendy got injured during his international duties, ruling him out for the game at the weekend. Therefore, it means Kepa or Caballero will start in goal, however I’m hoping Kepa can come into the starting line up and give Mendy some competition this season, for the first team goalkeeper season, so a decent display against Southampton will be needed in order to spark hopes of a revival as Chelsea’s number one. Despite being recalled back early from the England camp amid injury concerns, I’m still backing Ben Chilwell to start the game on Saturday.
We have already seen how important he can be to this Chelsea team, in his first start in the Premier League with a goal and assist vs Crystal Palace. However it’s important to note that we wouldn’t want him to be playing in discomfort, so it’s something Lampard and his medical team will have to assess ahead of the game, which means we could see the surprise inclusion of Emerson. Emerson has came out in the week saying he doesn’t feel valued in the Chelsea camp, however possibly a start at the weekend could make him feel more included, yet I would still predict Chilwell to start if he’s fully fit. The next position to predict is at centre back, and I believe we will play with 4 at the back. I predict we will continue to play Kurt Zouma, who looks to be in amazing form already this season, scoring two goals in four Premier League games, so I believe a start for Zouma is a given, however to pair the French international, I’m again going for the surprise inclusion of Fikayo Tomori, who looked to be leaving Stamford Bridge on the last day of the transfer window. However, Tomori is a Chelsea player and I believe the Southampton game could be a good game for him to come in and get some minutes, with Thiago Silva not yet ready to play after being on international duty with the Brazil national team.
As for the right back position, I think Lampard will play Reece James to give us a bit more creativity going forwards against Southampton. Reece James goes into the weekend in good form with a couple of great performances for England during the week, despite seeing a red card after the game finished. I believe Reece will be able to put in a shift both defensively and offensively, and will hopefully be able to nullify the potential threat of Southampton’s attacking talent in the likes of Ings, Adams and Djenepo. Moving into the midfield, I wouldn’t be surprised to see a Kante and Jorginho pivot, as we did for the last couple of games before the international break. Kante is of course, still one of the best midfield players in the world, and Jorginho has the ability to see a pass that very few players in world football can, and his eye for a forward pass could see us break the deadlock at the weekend, which is why I would include Jorginho over our player of the season for the 2019/20 campaign, Mateo Kovacic.
As for the attack, I would predict we would go for the two wingers as well as a number 10 and a single striker up top. Therefore I can see, the attack consisting of Hudson Odoi, Pulisic, Havertz and Werner. Havertz and Werner are the obvious choices at the top of the pitch, with both players again being in great form during the international break, both players were able to score and assist against Turkey during the week. As for the wingers, I’m hoping for the return of our new number 10, Christian Pulisic. It may still be too early and he may be lacking match fitness, however I would like to see Captain America cutting in the from left wing. Although Pulisic is probably the biggest doubt at this moment in time, we might see Mason Mount start on the wings, despite that not being his natural position. Mount is clearly a favourite of Lampard, and his hard working attitude has seen him become a fan favourite within his first 18 months as a Chelsea first team player, so if Pulisic is still short of match fitness, I have full confidence in Mason Mount to come and put in a shift.
On the right wing, I believe Hudson Odoi will start, however over the last few weeks we have seen him interchange and swap wings to play on his favoured left wing. I believe Callum’s pace and creativity could be a benefit for the game at the weekend, however we are also in store for the debut of Hakim Ziyech, who is set to play his first minutes in the Premier League. Despite Lampard ruling him out of his first start, he revealed in his post match press conference that he is excited to see Ziyech play at Stamford Bridge, so hopefully we can see Ziyech linking up with his teammates for some minutes in tomorrow’s game.