Chelsea 1 Southampton 3: Three talking points
Three talking points as Southampton ease to 3-1 victory over Chelsea at Stamford Bridge
Willian underlines free-kick threat
The Chelsea forward is fast becoming the Premier League’s most-feared set-piece taker. We haven’t been treated to many special free-kicks this season. However, the Brazil forward scored a stunning effort in a 2-1 defeat by Porto in the Champions League on Tuesday night. It was his third conversion from a free-kick in three successive games. So, when Chelsea were awarded a penalty in the opening 10 minutes, it was no surprise to see the South American stood over the ball. A direct attempt at goal appeared unlikely with his position wide on the right and roughly 40 yards from goal. But Willian delivered a deliciously curling free-kick which crept past Southampton shot stopper Maarten Stekelenburg. While he doesn’t have the power of Gareth Bale or Cristiano Ronaldo, and lacks the visual appeal of a David Beckham curling effort, Willian falls into the category of shrewd set-piece taker.
Chelsea’s gremlins return
For those who witnessed Chelsea’s performance in Porto, it was frightening to see the space between their defence and midfield. It was very un-Jose Mourinho. Many ex-professionals called on the Chelsea manager to restore John Terry to his starting line-up. Even if the Blues captain is out-of-form, his leadership in a defence lacking organization is an asset. The Blues skipper couldn’t be attributed with the blame for Steven Davis’s equaliser, but Saido Mane’s winner highlighted why Mourinho has been leaving the 34-year-old out of his starting XI. Leadership aside, Terry is short on confidence which looks to be affecting his ability to read the game. When the ball fell at Mane’s feet, Terry uncharacteristically lunged into a tackle which the Senegal international easily read, spinning away from the veteran defender and finishing past Asmir Begovic. Graziano Pelle’s 72nd minute finish compounded a miserable evening for the blue half of London. Don’t bank on Terry being in the line-up against Aston Villa on 17 October.
How much long will Mourinho get?
There has been much said about Mourinho and his so-called third-season syndrome. The Blues manager has been quick to point to the silverware won during third seasons at Stamford Bridge (in his first reign) and at Real Madrid. But the Portuguese manager is facing the biggest crisis of his career. Chelsea can forget about an unlikely revival in the Premier League title race, a more realistic target is finishing in the top four. The west London side could be 11 points behind leaders Manchester United if Louis van Gaal’s side beat Arsenal on Sunday afternoon. All is not well in the Champions League, either, after a 2-1 loss to Porto mid-week. While the Blues will more than likely reach Champions League knockout stage, they won’t go much further than the last-16. Perhaps more worryingly is the apparent power struggle in the background at Stamford Bridge. Mourinho appears to be feuding with Terry, whilst his recent exclusion could be interpreted as a message to owner Roman Abramovich after failing to sign John Stones in the summer.