Chelsea v Southampton: Premier League – live!
Hello. Chelsea ruined Spurs’ FA Cup hopes on Saturday and now want to crush their Premier League dreams too, the bounders. Victory today would go a fair way to doing that, extending Chelsea’s lead at the top of the table from four to seven points. And with Antonio Conte’s men due to play Everton early on Sunday afternoon, the gap at the top could be a daunting 10 points before kick-off in the north London derby, when Spurs will begin trying to claw their way back into contention all over again. This match, then, has pivotal look to it even if, mathematically speaking, a win wouldn’t even guarantee a Champions League spot for Chelsea, let alone the title.
The chances of Southampton keeping the season interesting for the rest of us are not as remote as you might think. They won at Stamford Bridge last season, after all. Granted, that was when Virgil Van Dijk was fit and they had Sadio Mané, Victor Wanyama and Graziano Pelle in their ranks but, on the flip side, they had Martin Stekelenburg in goal. What is more, Claude Puel’s side won’t lack motivation as they could do with at least a point from today’s game to boost their hopes of maintaining a respectable top-half position in the table, as opposed to tumbling down towards the relegation zone, from which they are, at present, misleadingly distant: they are nine places above Swansea, but only nine points. And Southampton do still have some fine players, at least until another round of sales in the summer. Dusan Tadic and Nathan Redmond, for instance, are capable of giving Chelsea’s wing-back plenty to think about; Manolo Gabbiadini can exploit any slackness in central defence; and Oriol Romeu will return to Stamford Bridge hellbent on proving Puel is not deluded for suggesting he’s almost as good as Ngolo Kanté. That, like the match itself, promises to be an intriguing duel. There are worse things you could do than follow this mbm, that’s all I’m saying.