A lot has been written these past few days about the soccer justice that was served with the elimination of Chelsea from the UEFA Champions League. The common theme in these various assessments by fans and pundits is that the team that came to play won, which is usually not the case when faced with Mourinho’s bus-parking tactics.
Such is the Portuguese’s ability to win ugly that after Edison Cavani’s shot came off the cross bar, many (including the player himself) must have thought it was game over. Surely, there was no way Paris Saint Germain would have another chance as clear cut as the one that was just missed. As it turned out, the French team didn’t need such a perfect situation to repeat itself as they made the most of two corner kicks to send the Blues back to London.
That this feat was achieved by playing with ten men for 90 minutes made it all the more remarkable for the Parisians and disgraceful for the London team in equal measure.
Now that the road to Berlin, and a possible treble, is closed to Jose Mourinho and his team, the only thing left to do is make sure the disappointment of the champions league does not derail their domestic campaign. And what better way to bury the ghosts of mid-week than to produce a convincing winning display against Southampton on Sunday?
The emphasis here is on “convincing” because just grinding out a win will not be satisfactory, judging from the negative press the team generated for their poor performance against PSG. Losing to a ten-man Paris wasn’t the main issue, rather, playing a defensive game against a team that had just lost not only a player but their star player was what irked the soccer community the most.
In light of this, here’s the possible starting eleven Jose Mourinho will field against Southampton:
This is a no-brainer really. Thibaut Courtois was one of the two Chelsea players– along with Eden Hazard– that had an almost perfect evening in the mid-week game.
At just 22 years of age, he has proven himself a man for the big occasion, and there is no doubt that the trip to Saint Mary’s could be a defining moment in Chelsea’s season. Expect him to be given the nod over Petr Cech in goal.
The defense was at fault for both goals– especially David Luiz’s equalizer–conceded in the Champions League. Other than that, they’ve been solid for the majority of the season. The PSG defeat should be written down as an off day (albeit a very costly one) because that is all it is. Any knee-jerk reactions in thinking of the mid-week performance as being symptomatic of a major defensive crisis would be premature and utterly unreasonable.
As such, any changes to the back four for this weekend’s game would be based solely on the decision to rotate and give some players a much-needed rest. Of the defenders that started against PSG, Ivanovic and Terry are untouchable because in addition to their impressive defensive abilities, they also contribute a lot going forward.
There’s been so many crucial goals between them this season that one could be forgiven for thinking that they are strikers in disguise. As for Gary Cahill and Cesar Azpilicueta, it would be no surprise should both be rested for Kurt Zouma and Felipe Luis respectively.
Chelsea’s midfield this weekend will most likely feature the same players we saw against PSG. The only exception might involve starting Willian in place of Ramires.
This means that Cesc Fabregas will go back to the position that we saw him in during the earlier parts of the campaign– operating from a defensive mid-field position. The fit again Matic should be given a nod in the holding mid-field position just in front of the back four.
Diego Costa has been a shadow of his early-season self. The lethal striker we saw in 2014 seems to have gone missing. In his place, an overly aggressive player (to put it mildly) whose best contributions seem to come from kicking at and throwing opposition players to the floor.
Regardless, he is still the club’s best striker at present and on his day is as unplayable a forward as you can come across. Also, he is the type of player who can appear asleep for the majority of the match only to just pop up and score a goal. Based on this, he should be expected to start ahead of Remy and Drogba.
Via – Lineup Builder