Chelsea Get the Victory Over Southampton

by - December 18, 2017

Chelsea hosted Southampton at Stamford Bridge on Saturday as they looked to continue a run of 7 wins in their last 9 Premier League matches. It was a match that the hosts dominated but were unable to get a second goal which would have given them a more relaxed outing.

Antonio Conte decided to only make 1 change to his starting line up from his side that won so comfortably at Huddersfield. He brought captain Gary Cahill back into the defence in place of Antonio Rudiger. This meant another run out for Eden Hazard as the central attacker, flanked by Pedro and Willian. This is despite both Michy Batshuayi and Alvaro Morata being named as substitutes, the latter not fit enough to start according to the manager.

The surprises came more from the visitors starting XI. Mauricio Pellegrino made 6 changes to his side that had been soundly beaten by Leicester during the week. These included dropping key players van Dijk and Austin to the bench. The central defender was involved in a lot of transfer speculation between the clubs whilst the striker is fine form with 2 goals in his last 3 matches.

Early on, the visitors were able to match the champions for both possession and attack. Playing with full backs and wingers on both sides, Southampton outnumbered their hosts along the flanks. Bertrand and Redmond playing on the left in particular were able to make progress, with Victor Moses struggling to cope whilst not certain which player to pick up. With Redmond’s and Gabbiadini’s pace, Southampton looked threatening but they were unable to create any clear chances.

As N’Golo Kante and Tiemoue Bakayoko started to take control in central midfield, the pendulum began to swing in The Blues favour. As the pressure started to mount with regular attacks and chances for the hosts, it looked as though it was only a matter of when they would take the lead.

However the main stumbling block was the performance of The Saint’s goalkeeper Fraser Forster. The England international has regularly been the subject of transfer speculation regarding a possible move to one of the top clubs, Chelsea included. A string of quality saves not only kept the match scoreless but reminded everyone watching of his abilities. Sadly for him though he failed to be strong enough when positioning his defensive wall and could not scramble across to Marcos Alonso’s perfectly aimed free kick just before half time. All of Forster’s great work undone in an instant.

It was a lead that Chelsea would not relinquish. For all of Southampton’s efforts they struggled to create enough meaningful chances. It was only the second half substitute Charlie Austin who registered their 2 attempts on target and Thibaut Courtois was more than a match for them.

Chelsea themselves registered 24 attempts in total and really should have won the game far more convincingly. It was another match where a front 3 with Hazard at the forefront has registered another victory but in truth, even with his vast talents and intricate skills, he is not a true striker. His tendency to roam caused a lack of a central target when in good possession. Morata replaced him and looked lively even though he had less support as Pedro was also replaced.

This was a victory which stretched The Blues current league run to 8 wins in 10 matches and with upcoming ties against Everton, Brighton and Stoke still to come before the end of the year, Antonio Conte will believe that the run can continue. And with the added attacking contributions of the match winner Alonso, the form of Kante and the reimproving Bakayoko and Chelsea’s defence looking so strong they are likely to continue solidifying their grip on a top 4 finish.

Written by Jon Ellis, Chelsea FC home and away season ticket holder. Follow him on twitter: @ClitheroeBlue

You May Also Like