Kalidou Koulibaly will return to the starting eleven after serving his suspension when Chelsea take on Southampton at St. Mary’s on Tuesday.
Chelsea have made a mediocre start to the Premier League campaign by their standards, and they have picked up just two wins and a draw from four league outings so far. Thomas Tuchel will demand a strong showing from his players here, and Chelsea will certainly be the favourites to pick up all three points against Southampton on Tuesday night.
Chelsea have an impressive head-to-head record against Southampton in recent seasons, and they come into this game on the back of five unbeaten matches from the last six meetings with the Saints. Furthermore, the last time these two sides met, Chelsea managed to pick up a 6-0 win away from home.
The Blues will certainly be confident heading into this contest, and it remains to be seen whether they can work on their inconsistencies and grind out the all-important three points here.
Tuchel will be without Conor Gallagher because of the red card the midfielder picked up against Leicester City last weekend. However, he will be delighted with the return of Mateo Kovacic from injury.
The Croat returned to action against Leicester City as a substitute, and he is likely to play some part against Southampton as well. Tuchel has confirmed that Kovacic is not ready to play a full nine-minute game just yet, but a cameo cannot be ruled out.
Meanwhile, Senegalese defender Kalidou Koulibaly has served his suspension and is set to return to the starting lineup for this game. Chelsea will also be bereft of the services of star midfielder N’Golo Kante because of an injury problem.
Tuchel spoke about Koulibaly in his pre-match presser, saying, “He (Koulibaly) will play at Southampton, he will be on the pitch. He’s a massive player for us. I already see him emerging as a leader. He’s a fantastic player, a fantastic personality, and I’m so happy with what I see, how he behaves, and how he trains. I see a lot of quality and everything that is needed to be a leading figure at Chelsea.”
Tuchel is expected to continue with his three-man central defensive formation with Koulibaly, Thiago Silva and Trevoh Chalobah forming the back three. Reece James and Marc Cucurella are expected to be deployed as the two wing-backs, with Edouard Mendy a shoo-in between the sticks.
Ruben Loftus-Cheek will be partnering Jorginho at the centre of the Chelsea midfield in the absence of Gallagher and Kante. Kai Havertz is expected to lead the line for the Blues against Southampton, with Mason Mount and Raheem Sterling deployed behind him. Hakim Ziyech and Christian Pulisic will be the backup offensive options for Tuchel.
Predicted Chelsea XI: Mendy; Chalobah, Koulibaly, Silva; James, Jorginho, Loftus-Cheek, Cucurella; Mount, Sterling; Havertz