Stuttering Southampton welcome Thomas Tuchel’s terrific Chelsea side to St. Mary’s in Saturday’s early Premier League game.
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The Saints are having a torrid time of it at the minute, losing six consecutive league games and conceding 20 goals in the process. Of course that’s skewed slightly by their 9-0 defeat at Manchester United, but conceding 11 times in their five other games is hardly encouraging.
Their opponents are at the complete other end of that spectrum, winning five of six unbeaten games under their new manager – with the only goal they’ve conceded in that run coming courtesy of their own player.
Antonio Rüdiger’s unfathomable own goal at Sheffield United means opposition players haven’t scored against The Blues for over 600 minutes of football – an indication of how solid their defence has been since the German manager’s appointment.
The man on the touch line next to him, Ralph Hasenhüttl, will be hoping to take a leaf out of his book then, as he looks to steer his Saints side back into European contention.
Their current run of defeats is their longest in Premier League history, but it’s the nature of some of them that is most worrying. The 9-0 defeat at Old Trafford aside, which is worrying for obvious reasons, capitulating from a commanding position against Wolves and failing to score against 10-man Newcastle leave a lot to be desired.
There were glimpses of their undoubted quality in the first half in that game against Wolves, but getting your season back on track is tough at the best of times, never mind when you’re facing a side like Chelsea.
The Blues have won on each of their last five visits to St. Mary’s, scoring 14 times and conceding just four. They’ve bagged at least twice in all five of those games, as well as three of their last four this season in the Premier League, and will look to capitalise on a leaky Southampton defence.
As appealing as all that is, however, I’m not completely in love with the price on Chelsea winning (7/10) and will instead look to focus my efforts on one man – the brute, Oriel Romeu.
The Spaniard is one of the first names on the team sheet, alongside central midfield partner James Ward-Prowse, and loves nothing more than getting stuck into his opponents in the trenches.
Romeu averages 3.5 tackles per game, 1.6 fouls per game and a booking every three matches in the Premier League. Those stats are nice, but they aren’t what’s caught my eye.
Against his former side specifically, he’s picked up five yellow cards in his last six appearances (of more than 10 minutes), which is why I’ll be taking Oriel Romeu to be carded at 12/5 with bet365.
I don’t just think he’ll be getting in trouble though. As well as the cards, he’s made five tackles in each of his last two starts against The Blues and 15 tackles in his last four starts for Southampton.
Under Tuchel, his opponents have been getting tackled a lot more than they were under Lampard too. Tuchel’s Chelsea have been tackled an average of 15.5 times in their last four games, compared to 9.45 times per game before that.
They retain possession in the middle third a lot, averaging the 3rd most touches there, which just so happens to be the space our man occupied. Take Oriel Romeu 4+ Tackles at 11/8 with SkyBet.