Who: Southampton vs. Chelsea
What: FA Cup - Third Round
Where: St. Mary's Stadium, Southampton, Hampshire, England, UK
When: Saturday, January 5, 2013
Weather: The Weather Channel forecast
Time: 15:00 GMT/10 a.m. ET/7 a.m. PT
Television: Fox Soccer Channel, FOX Deportes (US)
Worldwide Live Streams and TV Channels: LiveSoccerTV.com
Referee: Mike Dean
3-Way Odds: Chelsea -151, Southampton +375, Draw +300
Total: Over 2.5 -166, Under 2.5 +120
Decimal Odds: Chelsea 1.66, Southampton 4.75, Draw 4.00
Decimal Total: Over 2.5 1.60, Under 2.5 2.20
Fractional Odds: Chelsea 33-50, Southampton 15-4, Draw 3-1
Fractional Total: Over 2.5 3-5, Under 2.5 6-5
Source: sportsbook.com (Curaçao, Netherlands Antilles)
Defending FA Cup champions Chelsea head to England's south coast on Saturday to face Southampton in third-round action of the FA Cup as one of the most anticipated weekends of the English football calendar year kicks off.
The Saints (4-6-10) are just above the relegation zone in 17th place in the English Premier League but are a deceptively dangerous team, having drawn three straight matches and having allowed two goals or more in a match only one time in the last two months—a 3-3 draw with Stoke City on Dec. 29.
In fact, the last time Southampton lost by two or more goals came Nov. 5 when host West Bromwich Albion shut out the Saints, 2-0 at The Hawthorns.
Southampton and manager Nigel Adkins will be without the services of Adam Lallana and most likely Nathaniel Clyne for this match, but the Saints leading scorer Rickie Lambert (eight goals in the EPL) and Gastón Ramírez (three) will be there and hope to shock the Blues.
Across the pitch in net for fourth-place Chelsea (11-5-4) will most likely be backup Ross Turnbull, who will be filling in for Petr Čech who will possibly be out for three weeks with a groin injury.
Besides Čech, the Blues will also be without captain John Terry, who continues to recover from his knee injury, and defensive midfielder Oriol Romeu.
Expect Chelsea to be in a foul mood for this one after seeing its four-game win streak rudely interrupted by 20th-place Queens Park Rangers, 1-0 on Wednesday at Stamford Bridge in a game somewhat characteristic of the European champions' schizophrenic season.
The Blues have won four straight meetings against Southampton—outscoring the Saints 10-2 in the process—with the last scheduled meeting between the two teams on Dec. 15 being postponed due to the Blues' participation in the Club World Cup and provisionally rescheduled on Jan. 16 at Stamford Bridge.
This will be Chelsea's first trip to Southampton in eight years.
One interesting thing to watch in this one is whether or not Chelsea interim manager Rafael Benítez will choose to use new acquisition Demba Ba, who completed a £7 million move to Stamford Bridge from Newcastle United on Thursday night.
Back in the starting XI for Chelsea should be Juan Mata, Eden Hazard, Ashley Cole and possibly Ramires after being rested by Benítez against QPR.
After losing to the last-place Hoops and falling 14 points behind EPL leader Manchester United, having to face the possibility that the club will not re-sign legend Frank Lampard this summer and being relegated to Europa League play after being eliminated from the UEFA Champions League, it's safe to say that it's not exactly fun times around west London of late.
But one way Chelsea can gain a little salvation out of this mess it currently finds itself in is by performing well and possibly winning the Capital One Cup and the FA Cup—the latter being a tournament it has won three of the last four years and seven times overall.
With a healthy blue chip on its shoulder, several starters ready to go and Ba now in the fold, the Blues should find a way to win this one at St. Mary's Stadium and score at least twice against a Saints defense that has allowed 38 goals in the league already—twice as many as the EPL-low 19 (tied with Manchester City) Chelsea has conceded.
But as with everything else this season, it certainly won't come easy for the Blues, who need desperately need to start finding their identity again amidst the constant management and player shakeups coming from the top and trigger-happy owner Roman Abramovich.
Should the two teams be tied after 90 minutes and injury time, there will be a replay of the match on Wednesday, Jan. 16, at Stamford Bridge.
The draw for the fourth round will take place on Sunday.
BETS: Chelsea -151, Over 2.5 -166
PREDICTION: Chelsea 2, Southampton 1
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