Chelsea striker Alvaro Morata (back) is in contention for Saturday’s match, after he missed the midweek trip to Huddersfield, while David Luiz (knee) remains sidelined.
Southampton have a fully-fit squad to select from ahead of their trip to Stamford Bridge, as they take on Chelsea by 4:00pm Nigerian time.
Chelsea have won each of their last three Premier League matches against Southampton, since losing 3-1 at Stamford Bridge in October 2015, and Antonio Conte has the best win percentage of any permanent Chelsea manager in league history (74.6%).
Southampton have kept one clean sheet in their last 24 PL meetings with Chelsea, a goalless draw on Boxing Day 2002 with Antti Niemi in goal, and Charlie Austin has scored eight goals in his last 12 Premier League starts for Southampton, including four in his last four matches.
Sharing his thoughts on the game, Southampton’s coach, Mauricio Pellegrino said, “We have to do a really good game to have a possibility of winning, but hopefully after a difficult moment we can bounce back.”
Antonio Conte, speaking to the media ahead of Chelsea’s third league game in the space of eight days, began the press conference by providing an update on the fitness of David Luiz, who has not featured since the Champions League game in Qarabag last month and has inflammation in his knee.
Conte said, “We are trying to sort the situation with the doctor,’ said the Blues boss. ‘It’s important to assess the situation day by day and to try to solve the problem.”
“I don’t know when he will be able to come back with us but, for sure, with the doctor and medical department we are trying to sort the situation.”
“The player is working apart and in the last few days he was in the pool. Today I saw him on the pitch trying to run a bit, but very slowly.”
“Every player is frustrated when they don’t play, especially when they have an injury. For sure there is a lot of frustration about the injury because every player wants the training sessions and the chance to give the coach difficulty in his choices.”
“I understand because I was a player, when I was injured I felt very bad and sad because you want to be available for the session, to be in contention for the competition, but injuries are part of the job.”
Conte was able to provide more positive news regarding Alvaro Morata after the striker missed the trip to Huddersfield with a back problem.
Conte said, “He’s better. He trained with us two days ago, again yesterday and also today. He has this pain in his back but he’s in contention for tomorrow’s game.”
After it was revealed Morata has been studying video footage of club legend Didier Drogba, Conte spoke about their qualities as players.
The Chelsea boss said, “They are two different players with different characteristics. Didier Drogba brought history to this club and he’s a wonderful player, a wonderful striker because he continues to play.”
“He’s a great striker, more powerful than Alvaro but Alvaro, don’t forget, has a lot of space for improvement. He’s strong physically, he’s a technical player and I see a great future for Alvaro.”
Matches against Southampton in recent years have traditionally been tight encounters regardless of whether we are playing at home or away.
Conte said, “For sure tomorrow the game will be very difficult for us because Southampton are a really good team, they have young players with a great future,’ the Italian explained.”
“I would prefer Southampton to have won their game against Leicester than lose in that way at home. I heard the post-match interview from Pellegrino and we must pay great attention.”
“They are very fast and play well on the counter attack with (Charlie) Austin, (Nathan) Redmond and (Dusan) Tadic. They have a lot of good players, (Shane) Long and (Sofiane) Boufal as well.”
“My expectation is for us to suffer, I have this sensation, so we must pay great attention. When you play after a bad defeat, especially at home, there is great attention of the coach and the club because they don’t want to continue a bad run. They want to give a good answer against a strong team like Chelsea.”