Chelsea excelled in their last outing, a 4-0 win at Stoke, and also welcomed John Terry back from injury. The club captain may start his first game since November, while Gary Cahill is also available after missing the Stoke match. Rafa Benitez reported good progression by Terry, saying: “he has to play games to improve his match fitness but the sessions with the team will help.”
Although Chelsea have won five consecutive away games, scoring 17 goals, their home form has been poor. With both Demba Ba and Fernando Torres available for selection, Benitez must decide how to use them to maximise his team’s attacking potency.
Winning against Southampton, a fixture postponed from December, would put Chelsea four points behind second-placed Manchester City. “We need to get three points in every game and see where we are in a few weeks,” said Benitez.
For Southampton, Jose Fonte, Adam Lallana and Luke Shaw are injured, while Emmanuel Mayuka is at the African Cup of Nations with Zambia. Although they lost 5-1 to Chelsea in the FA Cup earlier in the month, Nigel Adkin’s side are in good form, taking 17 points from their last 11 Premier League games, just one fewer than Chelsea.
Their last away match, at Aston Villa, brought three points that lifted them out of the relegation zone. Adkins is confident of building on the club’s recent success, saying: “[Chelsea have] got talented, talented football players as we believe we have as well, and what we’ve got to do is make sure that we go there with the belief that we can get three points and if not then we come away with one.”
KICK-OFF: Wednesday, 7.45pm
PAST THREE MEETINGS...
Southampton 1 (Rodriguez) Chelsea 5 (Ba 2, Moses, Ivanovic, Lampard), FA Cup, January 2013
Southampton 1 (Phillips) Chelsea 3 (Lampard, Gudjohnsen 2), Premier League, April 2005
Chelsea 2 (Beattie OG, Lampard) Southampton 1 (Beattie), Premier League, August 2004
Chelsea have failed to score in four of six home matches since the arrival of Rafa Benitez – the exceptions being a 6-1 win over Nordsjaelland in the Champions League and an 8-0 thrashing of Aston Villa in the Premier League.
Southampton’s only away defeat since 5 November was a 1-0 loss to Liverpool on 1 December – they have won one and drawn two since that match.
Chelsea’s Frank Lampard has six goals in his side’s last seven meetings with Southampton.
Southampton striker Rickie Lambert has scored in four of his last five away games.
Chelsea to win: 1.25
Southampton to win: 15.0
TV: Highlights on Sky Sports 2 at 10.30pm.