Despite their first-place berth on the top of the Premier League, Chelsea have been put through the wringer lately. Accusations of fan racism and a bitterly disappointing Champions League showing will have left many Chelsea fans frustrated - and Southampton will be looking to dump more misery on their West London foes on Sunday when they roll up to Stamford Bridge.
We speak to Chelsea fan Greg Grimes ahead of Sunday's showdown. We talk Chelsea's title chances, the Chelsea fan's take on Saints as a club and why Toby Alderweireld is his ideal Southampton player to make the move to Stamford Bridge.
St. Mary's Musings: What were your season expectations before it started and have they changed since?
Greg Grimes: In the league, I expected us to again challenge. We needed the new signings to settle quickly and they did. I thought Man City and Arsenal would've challenged us more. I still don't think it's over, it takes one or two results and the gap could be 2/3 points. In the Champions League I think we always hope to get to at least the quarters. Unfortunately this year we haven't done that. <!-- ######## START FLOATED VIDEO SNIPPET ######## -->
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SMM: Fresh after your Champions League departure at the hands of PSG, how do you feel about what happened last night?
GG: We got what we deserved. I knew from the moment Ibrahimovic was sent off it wasn't going to work in our favour. 9/10 the team with 11 men will do it. We hadn't been playing well leading up to the game and most of the guys bar Terry do not have a lot of experience in those types of matches. I think the pressure to do it against 10 men and at home got to them.
SMM: Will Chelsea win the league?
GG: Well if we win our game in hand we'll be eight points clear. But I think it will go to the wire as we have some tough games. We never do it the easy way! I think our game with you is vital, if we bounce back from the Champions League disappointment quickly I think we will.
SMM: What did you think of our 1-1 draw earlier in the season?
GG: It was frustrating for us, I think Southampton were the better side in the first half. We got the goal before half time and hoped we'd get the winner. But you defended very well and for that you deserved the point.
SMM: How do you and other Chelsea fans view Southampton as a club?
GG: As an established Premier League club. Even when you were in League One I always felt you were a Premier League club just unfortunate to be in the position you were. Like everyone we see you as a club who have brought some excellent players up from the academy. And this season we view as a club that is challenging for Europe. The club's well run and I can't see any reason why you won't be in a similar position next season.
SMM: What did you make of Southampton's summer exodus and how they have performed since?
GG: I thought you were in big trouble. Sold your best players, brought in a manager that was bit of a gamble (massively paid off) and the signings that you brought in HAD to settle instantly. But they did and credit to the manager he has done a great job replacing the players and also the way he has kept you in contention without having the biggest squad.
SMM: If you could sell any of Chelsea's regular starting XI, who would it be and why?
GG: Based on form this season either Oscar or Gary Cahill. Oscar hasn't performed for us consistently since we sold Juan Mata. He has his moments, especially against bottom half teams but he can't be relied on. Cahill has been 50% of the player he was last season. So since we sold David Luiz, a trend there!
SMM: If you could buy any Saints player, who would it be and why?
GG: Big fan of a few of your players but if I had to choose one current players it'll have to be Toby Alderweireld, he can link up with his Atletico boys and could play in several positions. Ideal player for any squad.
SMM: Finally, what are your predictions for the game on Sunday?
GG: Heart says 2-0, head says 0-0. We have struggled to score goals from open play in recent weeks. I think you'll be hard to break down and if we do, can see it only coming from a set piece or something.