What just two short weeks ago felt like an inevitability has now become a matter of debate. Chelsea’s cruise towards the Premier League title has stalled, reducing their lead to just four points as they look over their shoulders at a rampant Tottenham team that suddenly fancies its chances for a late season title push.
But Antonio Conte’s side can restore some calm within their ranks by beating a Southampton team that will be sure to be no pushovers when they go to Stamford Bridge on Tuesday.
With the pressure piling on the league leaders, you have to wonder if Easter Monday’s announcement (that long-time captain John Terry will be departing the club at the end of the summer) was specifically timed now that Chelsea seem to be stumbling towards the end of the season.
To call Terry a club legend would be an understatement, and his impending exit is just the sort of thing that could galvanise a team and fan base to send him off with one more Premier League winners medal around his neck, something that former team mates Frank Lampard and Didier Drogba have already alluded to in social media tributes.
Manager Antonio Conte will also have professional pride on the line, wanting to reassert his dominance as the league’s premier tactician after being thoroughly outfoxed at Old Trafford by his predecessor.
Southampton, meanwhile are looking to bounce back from a sound home defeat at the hands of Manchester City, with a couple of games in hand on the teams around them as they attempt to reach a respectable upper mid table finish.
They might have their work cut out against a Chelsea side desperate to restore some balance, and more importantly, keep their bitter London rivals at arms length in the title race.