Chelsea manager Antonio Conte has admitted that it is surprising to see Southampton’s league position given the “quality and talent” in their squad.
Speaking ahead of Saturday’s Premier League encounter at St Mary’s, the Italian called on his players to be wary of Mark Hughes’s men and be aware that “it won’t be easy to play against them.”
“I know that (Southampton) have great quality,” he said. “It’s a great surprise to see them in this position fighting to avoid relegation. I think their squad has great quality and talented players.”
Saints and the Blues will meet twice in the coming nine days, and while Conte acknowledged that next weekend’s FA Cup semi-final is of a higher priority to his team’s season, a win on the south coast tomorrow would nonetheless be significant.
“We have to go game by game, the most important match now is tomorrow and we want to improve our position in the table.
“It’s a moment that we have to just think about the team and improving our performances. My job is to work with these players and to finish this season as strongly as possible.”
With that in mind, the former Juventus and Bari coach may see it fit to rotate his squad before that Wembley meeting, particularly in defence.
“I have the possibility to rotate the defensive line and when I see the chance to let someone like Andreas Christensen rest, it is right to make changes. I have four centre-backs and from now until the end of the season, I will give everyone the chance to play.”