Chelsea's secret weapon will be deployed against Lallana threat

Southampton against Chelsea on New Year's Day promises to be an intriguing Premier League fixture, with both teams believing that they can walk off with all 3 points .

The Saints have performed well at home this season, scoring 16 goals in their nine Premier League games at Saint Mary’s, and at least two in six of the last seven home games.

This Southampton side tends to focus on an aggressive style of play, harrying opponents and then dominating possession, often attacking through the middle to get the ball up to the influential Adam Lallana.

The Southampton midfielder has been in fine form this season, especially in front of the Southampton supporters. Lallana has participated in each of Southampton’s nine home matches, scoring three goals and assisting in a further two. Picking up the ball just behind the strikers, the Saints’ key man averages 2.3 successful dribbles per home game, 2.2 key passes and 1.9 shots. He is a dangerous player, and one Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho will be looking to keep quiet.

And the Chelsea boss will likely look to deploy Ramires to squeeze the space and not allow Lallana time on the ball to run at the back four. The Brazilian midfielder is likely to stay close to Lallana most of the game.

Ramires has been in solid form defensively in away games this season, starting in all of Chelsea’s nine games away from Stamford Bridge. He is a busy player, making on average 2.4 tackles per away game, and 1.1 clearances. He has committed 12 away-day fouls so far this season.

Aside from stopping Lallana, Ramires will use his pace and ability to surge forward - so far this season, he has made an average of 0.9 turnovers per game, 1.1 successful dribbles and attempted 14 shots overall.

Containing Lallana will be pretty key to Chelsea's fortunes on the day, and Ramires will likely be deployed to make sure the Saints man makes little impact.

images: © Jason Bagley, © wonker

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