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Premier League

Demba Ba signing could see Chelsea challenge for title says Nigel Adkins

Southampton play Chelsea in the Premier League tonight

Southampton boss Nigel Adkins believes the signing of Demba Ba could see Chelsea fight for the Barclays Premier League title this season.

The Blues are currently 14 points behind leaders Manchester United but play their game in hand against the Saints this evening and Adkins reckons Rafael Benitez's side remain in the title hunt, even if the Chelsea fans are still yet to be won over by the Spaniard.

"I think with the addition of Demba Ba now and whoever else they might bring in they look a very well-equipped side to go for the title," he said.

"It will be an interesting one but obviously he (Benitez) has started well in respect that they have won games, he is a good manager and has won the European Cup and the team play good.

"The experience of playing them here at St Mary's 10 days ago they have got exceptionally good football players who play good football and if you give them half an opportunity they will capitalise on that.

"Will he win the fans around, who knows? I think there has obviously been a big turnaround in managers at Chelsea anyway and I think you will find that Chelsea fans are passionate about their football club."

Adkins refused to confirm the Saints were close to the signing of Norway defender Vegard Forren from Molde and also stopped short of ruling Luke Shaw out of the trip to Stamford Bridge despite the 17-year-old suffering a nasty cut to his leg last weekend.

Adkins was more forthcoming about his support for striker Jay Rodriguez, who was accused of diving to win the decisive penalty in Saturday's 1-0 win over Aston Villa.

When asked if he felt the former Burnley forward had dived, Adkins had a bullish response: "He's not a diver. We don't advocate diving here whatsoever.

"We could have had seven or eight penalties this season, we don't surround the referee, we allow the referees to make the decisions.

"When you look at the one at the weekend there was intent there, it was a poor challenge from the defender, correct there is no contact made but it's still a poor challenge from the defender - Jay is a young lad who is so enthusiastic."

Adkins also said that his team must continue to create situations where the officials are forced into making big decisions.

He said: "All we need to do is keep getting the ball in the penalty area in a way we give defenders decisions to make whether to challenge or not and give refs decisions whether to give penalties or not.

"Seven or eight times clearly we should have had penalties. That's the reality of football."