Southampton-Chelsea Preview

For all of England’s scrambling through two rounds in the Champions League group stage, three of the four sides at least have some domestic success to fall back on no matter how the next two months shake out in Europe.

The least likely of that group to also experience Premier League problems find themselves in a humbling spot on, and if Chelsea can’t begin correcting that in consecutive home fixtures, a new level of concern is on the way for Jose Mourinho’s side.

The first figures to be the more difficult of the two and comes Saturday against 2014 Premier League darlings Southampton.

The top flight’s defending champions are in 14th with promoted Watford among the group Chelsea (2-2-3) are looking up at seven matches in. Confidence isn’t on the rise after Tuesday’s 2-1 Champions League loss at Porto, which followed last Saturday’s 2-2 draw at dismal Newcastle United.

"It’s not a good moment now. We must do more," Diego Costa told the club’s official website. "We have a good squad with a great deal of quality. We have maybe lost some confidence in three or four games. … It is the responsibility of all of us. We have to improve our character and confidence."

The Champions League loss was noteworthy because Mourinho guided Porto to the 2003-04 title in a career-altering moment, but the draw with an early relegation favourite that had scored three goals through six matches could be the greater cause of what could be a questionable reception before a home crowd.

The disappointing draw at Newcastle left the Blues with eight points from their first seven matches for the first time since taking seven in 2000, and they’ve already dropped 13 points after needing 20 contests and a flip of the calendar to reach that point last season.

The concerns begin with the back line with 14 goals conceded, which trails only bottom-of-the-table Sunderland and is twice that of what they allowed through seven last season.

"We have to find balance," Mourinho said. "We now have two home games in the Premier League and we need to try to get good results. Good feelings, happiness, self-esteem, the players need those to play and when luck goes against you it’s difficult to have those feelings."

It took Chelsea 19 matches to allow 14 last season, the last of which came in the first of two 1-1 draws with Southampton.

The Stamford Bridge draw came on March 15 after Costa gave the Blues an 11th-minute lead before Dusan Tadic converted from the penalty spot eight minutes later.

Southampton (2-3-2), more rested with their affairs in Europe over, are coming off Saturday’s 3-1 home win over Swansea City and heading into a three-match span against the defending champions, home against surprising Leicester City and at Liverpool. Their three away matches have all resulted in draws, though those have come at Newcastle, Watford and West Bromwich Albion.

It hasn’t quite been last campaign’s blistering start, but it’s been enough to crack the top half of the table as the Saints enter in 10th with nine points.

A victory at Samford Bridge would rouse excitement similar to last fall’s and give them consecutive top-flight wins for the first time since beginning January with three straight.

The attack is hinting at guiding them there with five goals in two league matches after managing five through their first five.

Sadio Mane, who had 10 goals in 30 Premier League matches a year ago, scored his first league goal of the season against Swansea, while deadline-day signing Virgil Van Dijk opened the scoring with his first goal in three league matches with the club.

"The most important thing is to get used to the tempo," Van Dijk told the club’s official website. "Get the style of play of the team, get to know your teammates a lot better than now. It takes a bit of time, it feels already like I’ve been here for months and that’s a good thing for the team."