The FA Cup with Budweiser returns for the 2012-13 season with Saints hosting the current holders of the trophy on Saturday.
The third round tie at St Mary’s is a tough looking assignment for Nigel Adkins’ men, who will be looking to maintain their unbeaten start to the calendar year.
Although Chelsea are a fellow Premier League opponent, Saints are yet to face the Blues this season with the scheduled trip to Stamford Bridge last month postponed due to their World Club Cup commitments.
That match has been provisionally rearranged and will take place on Wednesday 16th January subject to there being no replay in this cup tie. Should there be a replay then that will take place on the 16th and the league match will be rescheduled once more.
Traditionally, Saints should have little to fear in this famous competition as they are unbeaten in all seven previous FA Cup meetings with the Blues with the most recent clash coming at the third round stage in 1981 where a 3-1 win for Southampton at the Dell set up a home tie with Bristol Rovers in round four.
With all Barclays Premier League teams entering the competition at this stage, Saints won’t lose any ground on their current position of 17th in the league standings, as they prepare to take on the holders with a near fully fit squad.
The game will be a momentous one for Saints star Jack Cork, who spent over a decade with the Blues as a youngster, and although he never featured in a first team game for them, he remains close to a number of Chelsea players including young England full back Ryan Bertrand.
Petr Cech, John Terry and Frank Lampard are survivors from the last clash between the two teams at St Mary’s in the Premier League during 2005 which the Blues won 3-1.
Nathaniel Clyne has missed the last two matches with a knock but could feature, whilst Adam Lallana remains out with a knee injury sustained last month.
Nigel Adkins may look to rotate his squad again on the back of the busy Christmas schedule, though the hard-working performance of his side against Arsenal on New Year’s Day will have given the gaffer plenty of food for thought when it comes to his selection.
Chelsea are likely to stick with Ross Turnbull in goal as deputy for the injured Petr Cech, whilst Blues boss Rafa Benitez will also be without club captain John Terry and Oriol Romeu.
Yossi Benayoun could come back into contention for the visitors after returning to Stamford Bridge from a loan spell at West Ham
Chelsea completed a league double over Saints during our previous Premier League campaign, running out 3-1 winners at St Mary’s and 2-1 victors in West London.
Saints haven’t beaten the Blues on home soil since 2000 when a brace of goals from James Beattie and another from Jo Tessem secured a 3-2 win for the hosts at the Dell. Dennis Wise and Gus Poyet were on target for Chelsea.
Saints were 3-1 winners over the Blues in the third round of the FA Cup of 1981 which came four years on from winning a replay in West London at the same stage when Southampton kicked off the defence of their trophy.
Saturday's game is the 87th all-time meeting between the two teams. Chelsea have the upper hand with 35 victories to Saints’ 26. A further 25 games have ended all square.
Mike Dean will referee the game, and he will be assisted by Mr J Flynn and Mr J Brooks. Graham Scott is the fourth official.
You can listen to live commentary courtesy of BBC Solent on Saints Player, where you can keep up to date with all the stats and scores from around the country.
First Team Manager Nigel Adkins, and midfielder Jack Cork spoke ahead of the game, and you can read their pre match thoughts on saintsfc.co.uk now