Southampton vs. Chelsea: Date, Time, Live Stream, TV Info and Preview
A busy week for Chelsea begins with a Premier League matchup against Southampton. It's the third meeting of the campaign between the two sides, with the Blues scoring an FA Cup victory and the clubs battling to a Premier League draw.
Rafa Benitez heads into the match with a lot of things on his mind. While he wants all three points as the Blues continue to battle Tottenham for a top-three spot, the club also has to deal with a marquee FA Cup clash with Manchester United on Monday and a Europa League contest next Thursday.
So it might cause some lineup juggling by the interim manager. Chelsea will be facing a Southampton squad that should not be short on desperation. The Saints are currently four points clear of the relegation zone and want to maintain that edge.
Here's a look at all the key viewing information for the match, followed by players to watch and a prediction as the Blues and Saints seek momentum-building performances.
Where: St. Mary's Stadium in Southampton, England
When: Saturday, March 30 at 11 a.m. ET
Watch: Fox Soccer Plus
Live Stream: Fox Soccer 2Go
Southampton Player to Watch: Rickie Lambert
Lambert remains Southampton's main attacking presence. The 31-year-old striker, who recently netted his 100th goal for the club, leads the Saints with 13 league goals and has chipped in eight assists. He also signed a contract extension through 2016.
He's the type of player who always seems to find a way to make an impact. Even though he doesn't feature elite pace or the natural talent of some other strikers around the Premier League, his work rate ensures the opposing defenders are in for an extended battle.
If the Saints are going to steal three points on Saturday, Lambert must lead the charge. There's no doubt Chelsea might be overlooking the clash with other key matches on the horizon. Southampton should attempt to be the aggressor early, and that starts with the veteran striker.
Chelsea Player to Watch: Eden Hazard
When Hazard arrived from Lille last summer, there were questions about how quickly he could adapt to the Premier League playing style. As it turned out, the winger was more than prepared to make the jump and has never looked out of place.
Instead, he's excelled. He's found the net eight times and, using his tremendous combination of vision and pinpoint passing skills, connected for 13 assists. And it seems like at least once per match, something he does makes fans say "wow."
He needs to make sure the Blues don't come out flat. If he can jump-start a couple of dangerous attacks early, Chelsea should be able to take control of the match. The longer the Blues let Southampton stay in the game, the easier it will be for them to steal a point like they did in the last meeting.
Matchup to Watch: Demba Ba vs. Saints' back line
Ba got off to a quick start after joining Chelsea from Newcastle during the winter transfer window. He scored three goals in his first four matches and made it seem like the Blues finally found the striker they were searching for.
Ever since that strong debut stretch, however, he's been slumping. The Senegal international has scored just once in his last 10 appearances. It's the type of drought Fernando Torres has been prone to, which was what Ba was brought in to combat to begin with.
The good news for Ba is he gets to face a Southampton back line that's struggled throughout the season. The Saints rank near the bottom of the league with 52 goals allowed, which means Ba should have plenty of room to operate and give Chelsea the edge.
Chelsea 2, Southampton 0
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