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Southampton-Chelsea Preview

The gamble paid off, physically at least, for Chelsea manager Antonio Conte. The psychological test comes Tuesday at Stamford Bridge, where the Premier League frontrunners face a quick turnaround against Southampton.

The first-year Blues manager raised some eyebrows with his starting XI for Saturday's FA Cup semifinal versus London rivals and closest pursuers Tottenham Hotspur at Wembley Stadium, leaving stars Eden Hazard and Diego Costa on the bench for Willian and Michy Batshuayi. While Batshuayi acquitted himself well, Willian turned in a splendid performance with a pair of first-half goals, one off a free kick and another off a penalty.

But Chelsea's defence, which also featured academy player Nathan Ake twice conceded equalisers after Willian's goals. On the hour mark, Conte introduced both Hazard and Costa, and the double substitution proved to be a masterstroke. Hazard snapped the 2-all tie with a quarter-hour remaining and then set up Nemanja Matic's 30-yard thunderbolt in the 80th minute that sealed Chelsea's 4-2 victory and a date opposite another derby rival, Arsenal, in the FA Cup final next month.


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