Southampton 0 Chelsea 3: Three talking points
Southampton 0 Chelsea 3: Three talking points as the Blues are emphatic winners at St Mary's
Mourinho’s substitutions pay dividends
In a game played in treacherous conditions, the elements looked as though they would prevail at one stage as both sides struggled to produce moments of genuine quality. Chelsea’s team selection reflected the weather, with the speedy Andre Schurrle preferred to more technical options such as Oscar or Willian. The Brazilian duo were introduced shortly after half-time and the game swung from that moment. Schurrle and Eden Hazard had been ineffective, struggling to leave a mark on Southampton’s compact defensive shape. The Saints suddenly looked more porous as Chelsea’s passing ability came to the fore. The first signs of danger came when Oscar went clean through on goal and went down under Kelvin Davis’ challenge only to see Martin Atkinson book him for diving. Not to be denied, he subsequently produced both assists and Willian confidently powered home the second and put the game out of sight for the visitors with a goal of his own.
Southampton’s horrendous run comes to an end
It has been very easy to brand Mauricio Potchettino’s side as ‘out-of-form’ having taken just five points from their last eight games. One look at the fixture list goes someway to explaining this however. In that run, only two games they played were against sides below them, in which they beat Cardiff and suffered a freak loss to Aston Villa. The Villains scored with all three of their shots on target while Southampton failed to match that despite having 21 efforts. Hardly a sign of a team out-of-form, merely proof that they are not quite ready to push for the European football that has been targeted by Nicola Cortese. January will be a huge month for their season as they look forward to friendlier fixtures against West Brom and Sunderland. If they can play with the sort of ruthlessness that was on display against Cardiff then they should be able to ignite an upturn in fortunes. The points gained against Newcastle and Manchester City may seem a lot more positive come May.
Saints’ youth impresses despite defeat
Despite the comfortable-looking manner of Chelsea’s success, a major positive for Southampton was the displays of their young full-backs. Calum Chambers and Luke Shaw were both up against two of the league’s best players in Eden Hazard and Juan Mata, yet neither were able to flourish. Shaw’s reputation has been on an astronomical rise since making his debut in November of last year and his side certainly looked worse for his withdrawal at half-time. Less has been made of fellow 18-year-old Chambers who only came into the side this season due to injury to Nathaniel Clyne. Although not quite possessing the explosive attacking pace of Shaw, he is no slouch and looks at home in the top flight defensively. Hazard showed moments of class but all in all Chambers did a fantastic job of keeping the Belgian from causing any severe damage. Life became harder for him as the game became increasingly stretched but one thing for sure is that if they can keep hold of the pair they are set for the next decade on both sides of the pitch.