It only took a few weeks for the Chelsea attack to get going. Raheem Sterling scored a brace as the Blues brushed aside Leicester City last weekend, but Thomas Tuchel will have depth issues as he looks to replace Conor Gallagher in his already thin midfield? Mason Mount can partner Jorginho, but after Mount was withdrawn against Leicester, can he be trusted with more of a box-to-box role on short rest in Tuesday’s match at Southampton?
With how the Saints defended against Manchester United, they could cause trouble if they’re able to isolate Sterling from the rest of the attack and hit Chelsea on the counter. Without N’Golo Kante, the Blues are suspect in defense, missing their key clog in the middle against a team desperate to show something in attack.
How to watch and odds
Date: Tuesday, Aug. 30 | Time: 2:45 p.m. ET
Location: St. Mary’s Stadium — Southampton, Hampshire
TV: None | Live stream: Peacock
Odds: Southampton +470; Draw +310; Chelsea -170 (via Caesars Sportsbook)
Chelsea team news
Saturday’s hard-fought triumph took Chelsea up to sixth place. Sterling’s second, a close-range dispatch of Reece James’s irresistible cross, was a made-in-west-London move you want to see executed from muscle memory again and again.
The former City man has scored seven goals and made four against this evening’s hosts, and the Blues need to put more away to simplify games and rise out of the current negative goal difference. Of the regular front three, Saturday’s match-winner has so far been on target with 22.2 per cent of his shots, Mason Mount 28.6, and Kai Havertz 40. Armando Broja, who was Southampton’s second-highest goalscorer on loan at St Mary’s last season, has cracked one shot to date this term but with 100 per cent accuracy.
Southampton: Valentino Livramento is a long-term absentee for Ralph Hasenhuttl, but outside of him, the rest of the team will be available for selection. Jan Bednarek has also been linked to a move to Aston Villa to replace Diego Carlos, so he would likely be held out of the action as well if that move materializes.
Chelsea: Without Kante and Gallagher, Mateo Kovacic’s return from injury couldn’t come at a better time as ball progression through the center of the pitch has been an issue. Tuchel’s wing backs have been strong but their crosses from wide turn into a predictable plan when Chelsea moves forward. Kalidou Koulibaly’s return from suspension will also help them push forward but Southampton will be prepared to protect St. Mary’s Stadium. Since allowing four goals on the opening day of the season to Spurs, Southampton have only allowed four goals in their last three matches while collecting four points.
Until reduced to 10 players on Saturday through Conor Gallagher’s second yellow, Thomas Tuchel’s side lined up as a 4-4-2. After that the defence reverted to a central three, with James and Thiago Silva especially making exceptional blocks and interceptions under intense Leicester pressure.
The Bavarian would have been pleased his team faced off 16 Foxes corners without conceding, but was concerned that Gallagher’s second misdemeanour came from sloppiness after one of the six awarded to the hosts. The decision-making in such settings is not quite there yet as new players grow accustomed to their team-mates.
Tuchel has confirmed Kali Koulibaly will start after suspension but we wait to see how he handles 37-year-old Thiago Silva as games arrive every three days. Midfield remains problematic as N’Golo Kante is still a few weeks away from a return and Mateo Kovacic may not be asked to start games until 100 per cent fit, despite Gallagher’s enforced absence. Recent recruit Carney Chukwuemeka is also in Tuchel’s thinking.