2014 begins with the hosting of Chelsea at St Mary’s on New Year’s Day, kick-off 3pm.
Saints are in action for the fourth time inside eleven days, after coming through a week of three fixtures over the festive period, a scheduled that yielded three points thanks to a win at Cardiff on Boxing Day.
Sunday’s defeat to Everton at Goodison Park meant that 2013 ended on a sour note for Saints, but the return of a number of players has given the squad a timely boost ahead of another gruelling run of games at the start of the New Year.
Kelvin Davis and Nathaniel Clyne were amongst the players who made their comebacks against Everton, whilst Gaston Ramirez benefitted from some additional playing time on Merseyside.
With Morgan Schneiderlin also back from serving a one-match ban through suspension, manager Mauricio Pochettino has increased options at his disposal going into Wednesday game.
A large crowd is expected at St Mary’s for the visit of a team that defeated Saints 3-1 just a month ago, a match which formed part of the team’s run of one win in the last eight league fixtures.
Chelsea arrive into this game on the back of a morale-boosting 2-1 victory over Liverpool, a result which lifted Jose Mourinho’s side onto 40 points – just two off leaders Arsenal – as they went third in the table .
This is the first of two away matches for the Blues in their next couple of league games, with a trip to Hull also on the horizon.
The Blues have lost just once in the league since they beat Saints with the 3-2 loss at Stoke City prompting Mourinho to consider a change in approach with his teams by concentrating on the defensive side of their game.
Since that match, they have not conceded more than one goal in a game, winning three of their last four league fixtures by the odd-goal.
On the connections front, Saints midfielder Jack Cork is formerly of Chelsea, but never made a top-flight appearance with the Blues.
Chelsea boss Mourinho is well-known to Pochettino from their time together in Spain, whilst Blues striker Samuel Eto’o once was once on loan at Espanyol during the Saints manager’s playing days there, though the Cameroonian frontman never appeared a game alongside the Argentine.
Morgan Schneiderlin is back from a one game suspension, and will hope to reclaim a place in the starting eleven.
Nathaniel Clyne and Kelvin Davis marked their returns over the weekend, and will be assessed again in the build up to Wednesday’s game. So too, will Dani Osvaldo, who has suffered with illness over the past fortnight.
Artur Boruc, Victor Wanyama, and Guly do Prado are all out.
Chelsea will be without David Luiz who is suspended after picking up his fifth yellow card of the season in Sunday’s 2-1 win over Liverpool.
Blues’ vice-captain Frank Lampard is also out. He suffered a hamstring injury over the weekend. Branislav Ivanovic picked up an injury in Sunday's game, and is considered a doubt, but winger Ramires returns from a one game ban.
“The calendar is very tough of late. We’re facing the top sides but we’re able to maintain our style; we’re able to maintain our performances, our philosophy of football.
“Again, the results are not coming our way but at least we’re keeping the same performances and same style. Now, we’re facing Chelsea and that’s going to be another tough game. We hope to face this game as confident as possible.
“It’s clear that Chelsea are a top side, a great team. They have great, talented players. We learned a lot from that game. It was a very competitive game and it’s going to be another competitive game against them this time around.”
It was 3-1 at Stamford Bridge in last month’s meeting between the two teams. Jay Rodriguez scored Saints’ quickest goal of the season to put the visitors 1-0 up, before the Blues hit back with goals from Gary Cahill, John Terry, and Demba Ba.
Saints and Chelsea met three times last season, twice in the league and once in the FA Cup. Saints took four points off the Blues in the two meetings after Christmas that began with a 2-2 draw at Stamford Bridge after recovering a two-goal deficit in West London.
In the return fixture, the hosts were 2-1 winners over Chelsea thanks to goals from Jay Rodriguez and Rickie Lambert that came either side of John Terry’s headed equaliser.
We met in January, with the FA Cup holders getting the defence of their trophy off to a flying start with a 5-1 win over Saints. Jay Rodriguez put the hosts in front before the Blues hit back with efforts that included a brace of strikes for debutant Demba Ba.
Saints’ 2-1 win over Chelsea in March was their first over the Blues at St Mary’s with the last home success prior to that, coming in 2000 when James Beattie’s double sandwiched a Jo Tessem strike in a 3-2 success.
Overall the two teams have played one-another on 90 occasions in league and cup. 37 of those have gone the way of the Blues, 27 have resulted in Saints wins and 26 in draws.
Martin Atkinson will referee Wednesday’s game, and he will be assisted by Mr S Burt and Mr J Flynn. Roger East 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.
Mauricio Pochettino and Steven Davis spoke to Saints Player ahead of the game, and you can watch that interview, as well as the press conferences in full on our video channel.
And if you’re coming to the game, don’t forget to take your smartphones and join in with #MarchingIn on our social media channels. Tweet us @SouthamptonFC or comment on our official Facebook page and upload images onto Instagram with the #MarchingIn for a chance to appear in a future edition of our Matchday Magazine.