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Sunday, 12th August 2018 Kick-off 13:30
Saints V Chelsea The Preview
Saturday, 16th Dec 2017 09:42
This is not the game that Mauricio Pellegrino would want after the debacle against Leicester City, it could be the game that either makes him or breaks him.
The performance against Leicester City highlighted that there is something not quite right in the Southampton squad, certainly Mauricio Pellegrino has made some baffling selections and on Wednesday it looked like his squad have lost faith with him.
Some would say lost faith with him again ! Wednesday night was a very similar performance to the one that the team displayed at Anfield a few weeks ago, a clear the air team meeting seemed to solve a few problems after that, but the casual onlooker would surmise that the manager has tinkered too much with his team.
This was levelled at Claude Puel last season and was ultimately the start of his demise, is deja vu about to strike !
Players know what is right in team selection and what is wrong and the omission of both Wesley Hoedt and Mario Lemina in recent weeks is indicating that soething is wrong although it is hard to pinpoint just what.
Both would have reason to question the manager why they have been left out of the side and both would have reason to be angry with Pellegrino, whose selections against Arsenal and substitutions were strange.
So the manager turn it around against Chelsea, can he unite the dressing room again or has he truly lost it beyond repair, we will find this out at Stamford Bridge this afternoon.
Pellegrino has to show his own players he is the man to lead them, they clearly did not play for him against Leicester and that was a throwback to Sunday against Arsenal when they were left to run themselves into the ground without any positive help from the bench.
If he is to do that Pellegrino needs to get back to basics, play his best players in the best positions, that means Soares, Hoedt, Van Dijk and Bertrand, that means Lemina,Romeu and Hojbjerg, that means Tadic and Boufal and up front that means probably Long up front for this game.
Putting Long in might sound strange, but this is not a game for Charlie Austin to start, even under normal circumstances I would not think it was his game, but given the way he has been run into the ground by the manager over the last two games, I would say even less so.
This is going to be a game for strong players and strong character being shown, there is no room for anything less.
A few weeks ago after the defeat at Liverpool it looked like Pellegrino had lost his way but he appeared to have learnt his lessons, the last two games showed that he appeared to have learn't very little or at least thought he knew better.
This afternoon we will find out if Pellegrino has any future at Southampton Football Club or if the job is too big for him.
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