Chelsea host Southampton on Sunday looking to get back on track following Wednesday’s demoralising Champions League exit to Paris Saint-Germain.
It was a thoroughly disappointing outcome for the Blues, and Sunday’s opponents Southampton will be hopeful that they can turn a bad week into a dreadful one with a positive result at Stamford Bridge.
The Saints head into the game buoyed by a surprisingly wonderful campaign under Ronald Koeman and with their sights still firmly set on a top-four spot.
The game could hinge on individual duels, and one potentially exciting key battle will undoubtedly take place in the middle of the pitch between two of the Premier League’s toughest defensive midfielders.
Nemanja Matic vs Victor Wanyama
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As per the table provided by Opta Stats, Wanyama has had a cracking season for the Saints but the 23-year-old is still some way off challenging the midfield maestro that is Matic.
The Serbia international is integral to the Blues’ Premier League title challenge and his presence in the middle of the pitch provides both balance and steel.
Defensively, he averages more tackles, interceptions, effective clearances, defensive duel wins and ball recoveries per league encounter than his weekend opponent Wanyama.
Moreover, the former Benfica man is more than capable in possession alongside the industrious Cesc Fabregas – averaging 57.92 passes per game with an impressive 87.1% success rate,
Getting the better of him has proved to be an almost impossible task for the majority of his opponents this season, though Wanyama and his mean physical presence won’t let him have it easy.
The Kenyan ace – September’s African Player of the Month – has been a key component in the St Mary’s outfit’s success this season and will be relishing the challenge of facing the Premier League’s best.