Southampton manager Ralph Hasenhuttl has possibly changed formation going into Double Gameweek 25.
With Kyle-Walker Peters (£4.7m) sidelined for the Saints due to a hamstring injury picked up in Gameweek 24, the Austrian is without a senior right-back.
The solution appears to be a back three, which was trialled briefly in that GW24 defeat to Wolves when Mohammed Salisu (£4.3m) replaced Walker-Peters after 72 minutes.
Hasenhuttl hinted at a change of shape in the embargoed section of his pre-match press conference on Thursday.
“If you have no players in one position, then it is always an option to think about a change of shape. This is not something that is too difficult to change quickly, especially when you have had a week to prepare.” – Ralph Hasenhuttl
The potential change of formation would also match Southampton up with Thomas Tuchel’s wing-back system.
Over 600,000 new owners of Danny Ings (£8.5m) will be hoping for immediate returns, irrespective of how the Saints set up. Hasenhuttl’s men also face Leeds on Tuesday in the second instalment of their Double Gameweek 25.
There was also a smattering of investment in Jannik Vestergaard (£4.7m) – who could be at the centre of that back three – and James Ward-Prowse (£6.0m), with both players starting.
It is also possible that Hasenhuttl’s preferred 4-2-2-2 formation remains, which could see Jan Bednarek (£4.9m) operate at right-back.
Che Adams (£5.8m) is once again on bench duty, while Stuart Armstrong (£5.5m) is not part of the matchday squad. Asked by BT if the Scotland midfielder is injured, Hasenhuttl replied:
Yes, a slight injury. Hopefully not too long. Again, was punished after two games in three days. A little bit [of an] issue with his muscle.
On Thursday, the Southampton manager had said of the club’s injury situation:
Kyle Walker-Peters is another who is out definitely for the game, for a few weeks maybe. Hopefully, there is nobody else [out apart from Walker-Peters, Theo Walcott and Ibrahima Diallo].
Tuchel, meanwhile, continues to keep faith with Marcos Alonso (£5.7m) at left wing-back as Ben Chilwell (£5.8m) is benched for the fourth time in five gameweeks.
Kurt Zouma (£5.4m) earns a rare start alongside Antonio Rudiger (£4.6m) and Cesar Azpilicueta (£5.7m), while Reece James (£5.0m) returns at right wing-back after missing out on the Gameweek 24 starting XI.
N’Golo Kante (£4.9m) is preferred to first-choice penalty taker Jorginho (£4.7m) in midfield.
“Right now we have three strong midfielders with [Mateo] Kovacic, Jorginho and Kante, which I’m absolutely happy [with].
“They are, in the moment, the core of our game and the core of our team with quality, mentality, organizing and the structure. I want to have minimum two of them on the pitch.” – Thomas Tuchel
Mason Mount (£6.8m) and Timo Werner (£9.2m) will rove behind striker Tammy Abraham (£7.2m), who overcomes a knock to start.
Edouard Mendy (£5.1m) is also back between the sticks for Chelsea. Tuchel stated this week that the Senegal goalkeeper remains first choice ahead of Kepa Arrizabalaga (£4.7m), who started the 2-0 win against Newcastle in GW24.
Southampton XI (3-4-1-2): McCarthy; Salisu, Vestergaard, Bednarek; Bertrand, Romeu, Ward-Prowse, Djenepo; Minamino; Ings, Redmond.
Chelsea XI (3-4-2-1): Mendy; Zouma, Rudiger, Azpilicueta; Alonso, Kante, Kovacic, Reece James; Werner, Mount; Abraham.
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