Gary Cahill, in common with many of his colleagues in the Chelsea squad, can put thoughts of international football out of his head until March and concentrate on a match-packed domestic schedule, but his week and a half away with England last month allowed the central defender to become more familiar with some of today’s opponents.
The Blues take on Southampton at the Bridge in a third v seventh place encounter following Saturday’s results. Chelsea are looking to bounce back from the Basel defeat and Southampton too lost last time out, away to Arsenal, but prior to that they were unbeaten in eight in the league.
Such a run of form by the Saints prompted Roy Hodgson to hand England debuts in the recent internationals to two of their players, Adam Lallana and Jay Rodriguez, adding to centre-forward Rickie Lambert who took his England bow in August.
‘I wasn’t surprised when they got called up, they have been playing well,’ says Cahill.
‘They are a great outfit, but we are playing at Stamford Bridge, we played really well against West Ham and we need to get back to that.
‘We need to get our consistency back. The manager touched on fatigue, a lot of people went away on internationals and came back, then played away to West Ham and then we travelled away again. It is demanding but everyone is in the same boat. So it is important to have rested well this week.’
Energy levels will need to be high this afternoon to match our visitors from the south coast reports Cahill, who is not only aware of their England players.
‘I have seen Southampton play a few times this season and they play really good football. They pressure high up, the work rate is phenomenal throughout the side and they have surprised some teams, but it is not a surprise to me because they have played so well.
‘Let’s hope we can get some momentum for the Christmas period because we wanted to get some momentum going into this weekend from Tuesday night, but that didn’t happen. We have games we can win in the next month but you have to go and get the points.’