Even greater riches for Lampard to choose from against solid Southampton
Chelsea to win 3-1
Frank Lampard’s main challenge this season will be selecting the right players from his expensively crafted squad to play the best football and, ultimately, win the most matches.
The likes of Timo Werner and Kai Havertz are almost assured of a starting place, but such is the embarrassment of riches available to Frank Lampard that you wonder how he will fit the likes of Hakim Ziyech and Christian Pulisic into his team having not yet played this season.
As he finds his best team, their form is likely to be mixed – coming close to losing to 19th placed West Brom but also blowing away Palace and Brighton. It’s arguably a good time to play them.
Southampton’s results are also mixed, but after losing their first two games of the season they’ve bounced back well with wins in their next two, meaning they’re only a point behind their rivals this weekend.
Chelsea will be favourites, but they’re have been plenty of surprises already this season.
Form Guide (all comps): LWDLW
Reasons to be cheerful:
Nearly a fully-fit squad to select from
Record signing Havertz is starting to hit form
Reasons to be fearful:
Lost their previous match against Southampton
New signing Ben Chilwell likely to miss out due to injury
Frank Lampard’s Chelsea went into the International break on a high after their 4-0 victory over London rivals Palace which will have given his side some confidence after a mixed patch of results.
Unfortunately for their manager, he’s also witnessed his side go 3-0 down at half-time to West Brom, as well as play poorly in defeats against Liverpool in the league and Tottenham in the Carabao Cup.
His side are far from the finished article and we are yet to learn how exciting new signing Ziyech will fit into the picture having only just returned from injury. New left-back Chilwell is also likely to miss out having left the England camp through injury.
Goalkeeper Mendy is in a similar situation, meaning shaky Kepa could be handed another lifeline.
But Chelsea have a top side, whichever team they put out, and they are likely to have too much for this Southampton side.
Star Man – Kai Havertz
Has started to look at home in a Chelsea shirt and was in fine form in Germany colours in midweek
Form Guide (all comps): LLLWW
Reasons to be cheerful
Won their previous meeting against Chelsea in December
Have found some form, winning last two matches
Reasons to be fearful
A tall order to prevent Chelsea from winning here
Have not won three consecutive games since 2016
Southampton, like their opposition this weekend, went into the break in good spirits following back to back wins, coming with clean sheets, against Burnley and West Brom.
This will have brought no small element of relief to manager Ralph Hasenhuttl who would surely have been worried having seen his side lose their first two league matches of the season, including a 5-2 thrashing against Spurs.
He will always have hope, for sure. It is almost a year ago that his side lost 9-0 to Leicester causing most people to predict that the Saints would be relegated. But they turned things around, in no small part thanks to Danny Ings’ goals.
There have been enough shocks already this season to think that Southampton could pull something off here, but it’s unlikely.
Star Man – Danny Ings
Scored before the International break and got his reward in playing for the national side and scoring against Wales.
Chelsea to dominate the match
All eyes on new boy Hakim Ziyech
Can Timo Werner come alive this weekend?
Normally you would expect Chelsea to brush off a team like Southampton with relative ease, especially with the quality players at their disposal.
There have been one or two shocking results lately, however that would call a comfortable prediction into doubt. Especially the 7-2 beating of Liverpool by Aston Villa a couple of weekends ago.
Southampton certainly have quality players to trouble Chelsea, particularly in Ings who is a fine goalscorer.
But Chelsea will be keen to build upon good performances and put a run of wins together, and with Kai Havertz in good form and could inspire Werner and others to improve their levels.
Chelsea to win 3-1