Date: 1st October 2021 at 2:15pm
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Chelsea endured another frustrating defeat on Wednesday as they lost 1-0 to Juventus in Turin, and Thomas Tuchel will be expecting a reaction from his side when they host Southampton on Saturday. 

The defeat in Italy followed the Blues’ 1-0 loss to Manchester City on Saturday, and Tuchel’s side came in for criticism for their defensive setup and reluctance to commit players forward.

Now, the European champions host a Southampton side that are yet to win a game this season, and have drawn four of their six league matches.

Chelsea will once again be without Cristian Pulisic and N’golo Kane, while Mason Mount, whose attacking threat was missed on Wednesday evening, faces a race against time to be declared fit for the game.

Below, we predict the XI that we think Tuchel will choose to face the Saints.

Goalkeeper

Edouard Mendy has been in sensational form between the sticks this season and will expect to keep hold of his starting spot despite impressive performances from Kepa Arrizabalaga. The Senegalese ‘keeper is chasing the golden glove award this season but is already two behind Manchester City’s Ederson and will be relying on a shutout against Southampton to keep him in the running.

Defence

In defence, Thiago Silva will likely keep his place after starting in Europe in midweek. The veteran defender has been rested at times this season, but the need for a standout performance may tempt Tuchel to start the Brazilian.

Alongside him, Andreas Christensen could be rested having played the entire 90 minutes in all but one of Chelsea’s league games this season. The Dane could be replaced by Trevoh Chalobah, who has impressed when called upon by Tuchel and will undoubtedly benefit from playing alongside Silva.

On the left of the back three, Antonio Rudiger will be hoping to continue his dramatic turnaround at Stamford Bridge. The German international was out of favour under Frank Lampard and was expected to depart the club, but is now one of the club’s most important assets.

Midfield

On the right, Cesar Azpilicueta will start and captain the side, with Reece James still out of action after hobbling off during the defeat to City a week ago. The Spaniard was substituted in Turin but will be motivated to ensure a positive reaction from his side.

On the left, Ben Chilwell will expect to start having been substituted on at half-time against Juventus. The Englishman is yet to play a single minute of Premier League football so far this season, but Marcos Alonso’s sub-par performance in midweek could allow the Englishman the opportunity to impress in front of the home crowd.

Kovacic has been arguably Chelsea’s player of the season so far

In the middle of the park, Tuchel will have a big decision to make with Kante ruled out. His first choice pairing of Mateo Kovacic and Jorginho will likely be selected, but the duo have played over 1400 minutes of football between them this season and could probably do with a rest. The pair have played in league and European game this season, and may have to play once again with Kante out. Saul Niguez was disappointing during both of his appearances so far and may not be trusted to start a crucial Premier League tie.

Ruben Loftus-Cheek, meanwhile, has shone in substitute appearances against City and Juventus, and also impressed against Villa in the Carabao Cup and is pushing for a first league start of the season.

Mason Mount is facing a race against time to return to fitness, and may not be risked from the start.

Forwards

Leading the line, Romelu Lukaku will be hoping for better service as he looks for his first goal since the winner against Zenit in the opening round of Champions League matches. The Belgian has been left isolated in the past two defeats, and will be hoping that weaker opposition allow the Blues to venture further forward and gift him opportunities in front of goal.

Werner and Chalobah will both be hopeful of a start against Southampton

Alongside Lukaku, Timo Werner could once again be called upon having sat out the match against Juventus. The German scored in the cup against Villa, and linked up well with his Belgian teammate when he was introduced late on against Tottenham a fortnight ago. His pace will stretch Saints’ backline, and he will be hoping to score his first Premier League goal of the season.

Kai Havertz and Hakim Ziyech were both disappointing against Juventus, and will likely both be named among the substitutes. The former, however, could be a useful option from the bench if the hosts cannot find a breakthrough in the first half.

With Mount’s fitness unknown and the excellence of Kante certain to be missing, Tuchel will be relying on the likes of Silva, Azpilicueta and Lukaku to get the Blues back to winning ways.

Southampton’s matches this season have feature the second lowest number of goals, bettered only by goal-shy Wolves, and Tuchel will therefore be wary of his opponent’s ability to nullify teams.

 
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