Southampton were unlucky to surrender a draw to Arsenal at Saint Mary's on Tuesday of this week. The Saints were dominant throughout the contest and deserved the three points. They will hope to see their form headed into the weekend cup tie, where they are likely to field the same first team as they did against the Gunners.
Chelsea, on the other hand, rather than celebrating and reveling in their form of late were brought back down to earth by none other than the worst team in the league.
A former charge in Shaun Wright-Phillips came back to bite his old club as he was the difference-maker for Queens Park Rangers, of all clubs, to see Harry Redknapp claim an impressive scalp at Stamford Bridge.
The Blues had been in fine form until the match that saw interim manager Rafael Benitez make a wholesale of changes to the side that had been crushing opponents only to see them be upset in front of an excited home crowd at their opening fixture of the new year.
As the preparation for the weekend is underway, Chelsea are likely to see a new face make his debut in the match.
The news of Demba Ba moving to the Bridge (h/t telegraph.co.uk) from Newcastle United is one that is met with mixed reviews, as many fans were probably more hopeful of seeing the club sign long mentioned target Radamel Falcao. Instead, club owner Roman Abramovich exercised rare financial caution and went for a solid piece of business, with Ba only costing the club £7 million.
Fernando Torres is likely to make way this weekend for the new arrival as manager Rafael Benitez has been quoted (via Goal.com) as saying the star Spaniard is one of several players in need of a rest:
Fernando is one of the players who needs to rest. Two or three players have been playing too many games in the last weeks and months.
Managing that was going well but against QPR it didn't work. Some of the players couldn't get to the level we were expecting.
Southampton manager Nigel Adkins has also been quoted (via Goal.com) in the press claiming that Arsenal are not believed to be looking to make a move for 17-year-old fullback Luke Shaw after his dominant performance against the Gunners in midweek:
No, [Arsene Wenger] didn't say anything. As I have said before, Luke is better playing for Southampton, where he is being nurtured and looked after.
He is still only 17 and playing in the Premier League, where he is getting an opportunity to flourish, to make some mistakes and to keep kicking on.
This is best place for him at this point in his career. He has a big, big future in the game, which he demonstrated with his performance against Arsenal the other night.
If anyone wants to try and do business, all the best dealing with the chairman.
It is certain to be an interesting contest as the Blues are likely to field a weaker squad hoping to rest major players, and the Saints, lifted from their great midweek showing, are likely to pull out all the stops in hopes of taking their dream of FA Cup glory into the fourth round.
Southampton Starting XI: Artur Boruc; Jack Cork, Maya Yoshida, Jose Fonte, Luke Shaw; Morgan Schneiderlin, Steven Davis; Jason Puncheon, Gaston Ramirez, Guilherme Do Prado; Rickie Lambert.
Chelsea Starting XI: Ross Turnbull; Cesar Azpilicueta, Branislav Ivanovic, Gary Cahill, Ryan Bertrand; David Luiz, Frank Lampard; Victor Moses, Yossi Benayoun, Marko Marin; Demba Ba.
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