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Saturday 21 October 2017

Koeman: Jose is a good friend

Ronald Koeman takes on Jose Mourinho this weekend well aware of how desperate his old friend will be to put Chelsea's Champions League disappointment behind them.

Southampton face the unenviable task of trying to stifle a Blues side not only chasing the Premier League crown but wounded by Wednesday's European exit to Paris St Germain.

Chelsea failed to capitalise Zlatan Ibrahimovic's first-half sending off, with the 2-2 extra-time draw at Stamford Bridge ending their hopes of a memorable treble.

It was not the first underwhelming performance of late, but Koeman does not expect such displays to necessarily work in Saints' favour this weekend.

"I don't know when it's a good time to face them," the Dutchman said. "It's always a difficult time.

"It's a big team, a strong team with some great players and of course they are very disappointed after the last Wednesday result.

"If you play 60 minutes against 10 players, you don't expect that final result and maybe a little bit more under pressure.

"They fight after the League Cup title and after that, not the most important one, they fight for the title.

"They need a win after a disappointing result but they will give a reaction you normally expect as a manager."

Ahead of this match, Mourinho brashly declared that Chelsea would win the Premier League - the kind of comments Koeman takes with a pinch of salt.

The pair worked together under Louis van Gaal at Barcelona in the late 1990s and retain a close relationship to this day.

"I know him very well," Koeman said. "It's a good friend and great coach."

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