Southampton rotation key to Chelsea draw

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Southampton manager Ronald Koeman had the luxury of being able to take players off in the Boxing Day fixture with Crystal Palace before yesterday's 1-1 draw against Chelsea.

Steven Davis and Graziano Pelle were withdrawn with over twenty minutes still to play as the game was all but over.


That gave Koeman the luxury of being able to choose from a relatively injury-free squad for the match with the Premier League leaders, and it seemed to work as they battled to a point.

Key to his plans against Chelsea was Steven Davis, which is why the Northern Ireland captain was taken off after the third goal with over half an hour still to play. The diminutive midfielder is somewhat underrated outside of Southampton but his place in the team is never in question.


Koeman's decision to remove him early will mean that Davis is fresh for the running and he performed to keep Jose Mourinho's men quiet.

At Palace, the Saints also stuck with the 3-5-2 formation that saw them beat Everton so convincingly the week before and with Ward-Prowse and Davis playing well, it meant only Morgan Schneiderlin was brought back into the starting eleven.

Victor Wanyama was a second-half substitute but he will also be chomping at the opportunity to get in and amongst the Chelsea midfield.

Tough choices

Shane Long, who worked fantastically well with Graziano Pelle last week was left on the bench as Sadio Mane was preferred, but Long remained on the bench to face the Blues.

Jose Fonte sat out against his former club through suspension, but will lead the side once again this time out. Before the Palace game, the absence of Fonte was a worry but with Toby Alderweireld leading by example at the back, the Saints defence were rarely troubled.


That enforced rest allowed captain Fonte to come back at 100% to face Diego Costa and the rest of the Chelsea attack. Following a run of five straight defeats, Ronald Koeman has got his side back in form and after two impressive performances they are now full of confidence.

Not that Jose Mourinho's Chelsea are short on that though, with a 2-0 victory over West Ham on Boxing day keeping them comfortably at the top of the table.

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