Premier League Preview and Prediction: Southampton vs Chelsea

Competition: Major League Soccer – Southampton vs. Chelsea

Venue: St Mary’s Stadium – Sunday, October 30 – 16:00 GMT (12:00 ET) 

Match Odds: Southampton 19/10 – Draw 12/5 – Chelsea 7/5

Match Preview

Southampton welcome Chelsea to St Mary’s Stadium on Sunday afternoon in a tie that has the makings of a classic, with both sides looking for three more points as they continue strong starts to the season.

The Saints are in a great run of form, unbeaten in five and are working their way up the Premier League table. Southampton come into this one having progressed in the League Cup in midweek. They drew their last league outing 1-1 away against City in what was an impressive display.

Claude Puel will be pleased with how has side are developing in the early stages of this season and will know they can cause any opponent trouble at home.

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Chelsea were knocked out of the League Cup midweek and will be looking to bounce back here. They demolished United 4-0 last weekend in what was easily their best performance of the season so far.

Antonio Conte is generally pleased with how his side have been playing in the league of late. He switched to 3-4-3 and has seen Chelsea win three on the bounce in the league since doing so.

The Blues are up to 4th, just one point off the top and back in familiar territory in stark comparison to last season. Chelsea need to ensure they pick up maximum points from their next three games before they face some other title contenders in back-to-back fixtures next month.

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Team News

Southampton are expected to be without Matt Target, Jay Rodriguez, Shane Long and Jeremy Pied for the visit of Chelsea here. Sofiane Boufal may keep his place in the side after scoring a fine goal in the League Cup against Sunderland on Wednesday.

Chelsea don’t have a huge injury list but are still expected to be without Cesc Fabregas, while Kurt Zouma, Branislav Ivanovic and John Obi Mikel are still unlikely to be named in the squad despite progression in their fitness.

Key Points

Southampton’s last five: W/W/D/W/D

Chelsea’s last five: L/L/W/W/W

Key Stat: Southampton are unbeaten in their last nine home Premier League games.

Key Player: N’Golo Kante – The Chelsea midfielder completely dominated the middle of the park against United last Sunday and continually moved the ball to his attacking teammates. If he plays like that again this weekend, Chelsea have a great chance of winning what is a tricky away fixture.

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Score Prediction

Southampton 1-1 Chelsea – St Mary’s is never an easy place to visit and Southampton will be feeling confident of getting another positive home result against a strong side. Chelsea’s momentum was rocked slightly in midweek and they will be eager to avoid defeat here.

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Premier League Preview and Prediction: Southampton vs Burnley

Competition: Major League Soccer – Southampton vs. Burnley

Venue: St Mary’s Stadium – Sunday, October 16 – 16:00 BST (11:00 ET) 

Match Odds: Southampton 4/11 – Draw 18/5 – Burnley 8/1

Match Preview

Southampton welcome Burnley to St Mary’s on Sunday afternoon as they look to stretch their unbeaten run to four in the Premier League.

The Saints drew 0-0 at Leicester before the international break but had won back-to-back games against Swansea and West Ham before that and look to be improving under Claude Puel.

They enter the weekend in 10th place but have a squad capable of challenging for European football once again. They need to be winning games like this one to prove they are a force to be reckoned with.

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Southampton are unbeaten in eight Premier League home games coming into the match but have already had to settle for frustrating home draws against Watford and Sunderland this season, so they must be more clinical in front of their own supporters.

For Burnley, it’s a tough away game in which little is expected of them. Sean Dyche’s men have yet to score a goal away from home this season and are taking on a Saints team that hasn’t conceded in 540 minutes of league action.

Burnley were harshly beaten by Arsenal thanks to a controversial late Koscielny goal in their last game but they beat Watford 2-0 before that and need to continue fighting for each other if they are to stay up this year.

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They come into this week’s action in 14th place and need to try and stay out of the bottom three for as long as possible to keep pressure off the squad.

This will be just the third Premier League game between these two sides, with each team winning once when they met over the course of the 2014/15 campaign.

Team News

Southampton will be without fullback’s Ryan Bertrand and Cedric Soares, who join Florin Gardos, Jeremy Pied and Sofiane Boufal on the injury list. Charlie Austin is expected to lead the attack ahead of Shane Long once again.

Burnley will be without star striker Andre Gray, who is serving the third of his four-game suspension this weekend. Ashley Barnes is Sean Dyche’s only injury worry.

Key Points

Southampton’s last five: D/L/W/W/D

Burnley’s last five: L/D/L/W/L

Key Stat: Southampton are unbeaten in their last eight home games in the Premier League and have beaten Burnley in each of the last three meetings at St Mary’s.

Key Player: Dusan Tadic – The Serbian playmaker has been in good form for club and country and helped his nation to victory by scoring in both games over the international break. He’ll be tasked with breaking down the Burnley backline on Sunday and should succeed in doing so, given his excellent vision.

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Score Prediction

Southampton 1-0 Burnley – The Saints have a great defensive run going and are unlikely to concede to a team that has yet to score an away goal in the league this term. There might not be many goals here, but the Saints are a stronger side and should have enough to seal all three points.

The Dugout: Can Claude Puel keep Southampton on the rise?

The 2016/17 Premier League season is less than a week away and a number of clubs will start the campaign with new managers. Fans will be expecting more from their team and here, ‘The Dugout‘ will assess whether Claude Puel can keep Southampton fighting at the top end of the Premier League in his first season in English football…

Southampton FC have gone from strength to strength since returning to the Premier League four years ago and are now preparing for life under new manager Claude Puel.

Between them, Mauricio Pochettino and Ronald Koeman have turned the Saints into one of the Premier League’s most energetic and dynamic teams. As a team, they have succeeded with a strong defensive unit and a fluid, attacking setup over the past three seasons, despite losing several high-profile names each summer.

This summer has been no different. Sadio Mane has joined Liverpool, while Victor Wanyama has moved to Spurs, with Graziano Pelle heading off to ply his trade in China. Replacing those three first-team players would have been enough of a challenge by itself, but throw a new manager into the equation and the challenge becomes even greater.

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The Saints finished 6th last season – their best top flight finish since 1984 – and will want to see their team kick on again after improving their league finish every year since returning to the Premier League. That is far from guaranteed though in what will be a hugely competitive campaign.

Claude Puel moves to the south coast after spending his entire career in France. The 54-year-old manager made over 600 appearances for AS Monaco over the course of a 17-year playing career before moving into management with the same club in 1999, winning the league title in his first season as a head coach.

Since then, he has managed Lille, Lyon and most recently Nice, all without winning any silverware. However, he has a reputation for building solid teams by placing emphasis on youth development and getting his sides to play attractive football.

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So what can Southampton fans expect to see from their new head coach over the upcoming campaign?

A different tactical setup…

Southampton have thrived in a 4-2-3-1 formation over the past few seasons but may now be set to line up with a new-look system for the 2016/17 season. Claude Puel deployed a 4-3-2-1 system at Nice last season to good effect, as they finished fourth in Ligue 1, scoring the third-most goals in the division.

The Saints have gone unbeaten through preseason, with Puel using a 4-4-2 diamond formation as well as a 4-3-3 setup on a couple of occasions so it remains to be seen what the setup will be for their first league game of the season against Watford on Saturday. But the 4-2-3-1 that fans have been used to looks to be gone. New signing Nathan Redmond has been deployed as a striker alongside Shane Long during preseason and that will be a tactical decision to look out for.

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Youth development to continue…

There is no doubt that one of the deciding factors in bringing Puel to St Mary’s was the fact that he has a proven track record of developing youngsters. The Saints academy is one of the best in the country and a whole host of young stars are constantly looking for first-team opportunities. Puel could be the man to keep the youth system thriving on the south coast.

He will need to ensure he does use the club’s homegrown talent to stay competitive without the financial muscle that their Premier League rivals possess.

Attractive style of play…

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Saints fans will not want to see their style of play change too much despite a change of manager and that should not happen under the Frenchman. Puel is known for encouraging free-flowing, attacking football and so Southampton should continue to impress neutrals with their approach to games. The key will be finding the right personnel to fit Puel’s system.

The creative instincts of Dusan Tadic and James Ward-Prowse will need to be let loose, while Shane Long and Nathan Redmond will guarantee that the Saints have plenty of pace in the final third. Losing Pelle means the Saints will need to rely on Charlie Austin if they are to stick with an out-and-out target man this season. If not, Shane Long will have to unlock defences with his clever runs in behind, but fans shouldn’t notice too much change on the entertainment front at St Mary’s this year.

Will Claude Puel keep Southampton at the same level they have been at over the past couple of seasons? Will they remain in the top half of the Premier League?