Southampton v Chelsea
7th October 2018
Eden Hazard, tormentor in chief
IBO Reporter : Spot51
With Salah incapable of hitting a cow’s arse and De Bruyne limping, by far the most destructive forward in England this season is Eden Hazard. It is never a good time to play Chelsea with him in such form and definitely not if you are a dispirited team from the bottom third of the table with an uncomfortably porous defence.
Sky’s broadcast (from the Home dressing room at Anfield) focused almost entirely on the following match but we did get a brief interview with Jamie R and Le Tiss on the pitch at SMS as well as the usual trite nonsense from both managers. Le Tiss seemed quite chipper about Saints’ prospects this season. He related that he was in a Saints side that lost their first 8 games but stayed up “with ease”: “That’s cos they had you” replied Jamie. Quite!
Sarri said he’d known Saints would go “5 at the back” which is why he changed to a back four. He said Barkley had earned a start (so he could rest Kovacic FFS). Hughes bleated about how few and how hard home games had been since his arrival: Man City and Chelsea twice for example.
Who knows how many kits a club like Chelsea has? On Sunday they were in a pale grey and orange affair I’d not seen before. There was a time when sides would not dare to wear grey in Southampton but, sadly, those days are long gone.
The first penalty area action came when McCarthy collected Azpilicueta’s cross. Most of the play was in our half and on 6m Chelsea won the first of a dozen corners which Willian took. McC punched clear but Chelsea recovered possession. Next Hazard wove his way into our box but was halted by an excellent tackle from the returning Bednarek.
Chelsea won 2 more corners, Bednarek blocking the first and Hoedt heading away the next. Saints were unable to hold onto the ball and fell deeper and deeper towards McCarthy’s goal. On 10m another corner was flicked on by Barclay but Saints got it clear. An on-screen stat showed over 40% over the action was in Saints’ final third. Oh dear!
On 17m Chelsea ripped us apart with Hazard and Kante setting up Barkley who fired over. Then Saints suddenly mounted an attack of their own when Bertie got down the left and crossed, only for Luiz to head it clear.
Sheer panic then broke out in Saints box before Bednarek was able to head behind. Hoedt headed Willian’s next corner away but Chelsea immediately recovered the ball. Alonso won another corner on 20m which Hoedt put behind. Willian’s next cross was headed away but this time Saints forward players got out quickly, put pressure on Chelsea’s defenders and forced a back-pass to their keeper; the home fans greeted this with rapturous applause.
This lifted Saints and Ings got forward, his left-wing cross found Lemina but it was a difficult height to control so the chance evaporated. On 23m Saints finally mustered a shot on target when Lemina set up Gabbi who made the world’s most expensive keeper earn some of his obscene salary.
With Saints beginning to win their individual battles and the crowd waking from their earlier slumbers, a match almost broke out. Sadly, when the hard-working Redmond sent Bertie away down the left and the captain’s fabulous cross reached Ings, our top scorer blazed over from 4 yards. Alan Smith, the gantry pundit, was amazed he didn’t score.
Saints continued to play better with Kepa forced into another save by Lemina but Saints rode their luck on 27m when Hazard sent Giroud into the box and Hoedt took him out. The referee pointed for a corner but replays showed Hoedt had taken man not ball. You don’t usually get those decisions versus the top 6 sides.
Saints cleared the resulting corner and the commentators noticed Saints had reverted to a back four. Bertie had reverted to left back and Bednarek was now right back, behind Cédric. Redmond did well tracking back to break up an attack down our left but a minute later it all went tits up.
As Saints tried to play out from the back Højbjerg was caught in possession by Barkley. Hazard made a run into our box, Barkley found him and the Belgian fired past McC to put Chelsea ahead. 30m 0-1.
Saints recovery withered as Chelsea continued to dominate possession. Barclay burst into our box but Saints cleared. Then Giroud sent Hazard goalwards but Hoedt’s last ditch tackle halted him. Saints headed the resulting corner away.
On 37m Rudiger’s slack pass found Gabbi. He ran towards goal with Ings peeling away to his right. The Italian shot from distance drawing another save from Kepa. Chelsea were soon back in our box and three efforts from Kante, Luiz and Hazard were all blocked by our back line and the corner count continued to rise. The best chance fell to Alonso on 42m but his shot flew wide.
In the added minute Bertie got forward and was fouled by Azpilicueta. There was some confusion about where the free kick should be taken from. Bertie lost his temper with the ref and was promptly booked. When the cross eventually came in, a Chelsea head sent it upfield and the half time whistle sounded. 0-1: somehow Saints were still in the game.
Hughes confirmed the change to 4-4-3 at half time by putting Cédric at right back and replacing Bednarek with Romeu. Chelsea were unaltered and immediately got on top as the second period started.
McCarthy saved from Willian but Saints then engineered a chance of their own. Højbjerg’s cross found Bertie in front of the goal. It was a harder chance than Ings’ at 0-0 but he too put his effort over the top. Ings got another chance, set up by Redmond, but fired straight at the keeper.
On 54m Lemina was carded for fouling Barclay. Saints then mounted an attack which broke down and as the ball reached Hazard, he was unceremoniously clattered by Ings. Willian knocked the free-kick beyond the far post where Giroud acrobatically drove it across the face of goal where it was turned in by Barkley. 0-2 and any semblance of a contest just died.
In the next few minutes 3 more Saints players, Cédric, Romeu and PEH, were all carded for fouls. Not much else was happening until Gabbi’s cross found PEH. Rudiger blocked his effort sending the ball out for Saints 1st corner – Hooray! Sadly, the cross reached Hoedt beyond the far post and his attempted volley was nowhere near the target.
Chelsea replaced Giroud with Morata and Willian with Pedro before Cédric won a 2nd corner for Saints on 78m. Before it was taken Long replaced Gabbi, then Redmond’s cross was headed away by Luiz.
A minute later Kepa showed why he cost all that money. A Rudiger header fell into the path of Redmond and he unleashed a fierce shot. “Goal” we thought – only for the keeper to tip it onto the bar and over. Of course, our next corner was cleared by Chelsea.
Chelsea were always ready to counter and on 80m Hazard set up Morata for what should have been a routine finish yet he was denied by a superb stop by McCarthy. Hoedt was down hurt and during the delay Chelsea replaced Barkley with Kovacic.
With Hoedt upright again, Saints went in search of a consolation. A quick throw enabled Redmond to look for Ings but the pass evaded him. Moments later the striker did receive a pass, from Romeu, and drew another save from Kepa and earning another corner. Once more, the ball reached Hoedt and was hoofed high into the Chapel Stand. Dreadful!
With less than 5m remaining, Jorginho’s trip on PEH gave Saints a free-kick in scoring range. Bertie again pulled rank but struck the wall and Chelsea cleared. On 88m a Kovacic shot deflected for yet another corner. With Willian subbed it was Hazard who crossed, his ball evading everyone before bouncing off Rudiger to be grabbed by a relieved McC.
Both sides were guilty of petty fouls as time ran out. On 90m Ings might have seen red for his foul on Kovacic but only got a yellow. The forward did get another scoring chance when found by Lemina but the close attention of Jorginho caused him to miss the target.
Alonso had a shot blocked but, on 93m, Hazard again cut us open, enabling Morata to dink the ball over McC for 0-3. That score line rather flattered Chelsea but it was our failure to put away some decent chances that made it look like a stuffing.
Boos rang round SMS at the final whistle which a number of our players did not deserve. As Chelsea got showered, they sat top of the league. This was not a game Saints were likely to win yet our team were still in it for almost an hour.
We have played much worse than this during the past seasons yet our problem remains the same. We need to stick the round thing in the onion bag more often!
The referee booked 5 Saints players and not a single Chelsea player
35 Bednarek (Romeu 45' - Booked 61')
2 Cédric - Booked 59'
18 Lemina - Booked 54'
23 Højbjerg - Booked 66'
21 Bertrand - Booked 45'
20 Gabbiadini (Long 78')
9 Ings - Booked 90'
30 David Luiz
8 Barkley (Kovacic 81')
22 Willian (Pedro 75')
18 Giroud (Morata 68')
10 E Hazard
Sun 7th October 2018
- E Hazard 30'
- Barkley 57'
- Morata 90'+3
Referee: Craig Pawson
- Southampton 35%
- Chelsea 65%
- Southampton 15
- Chelsea 21
Shots on Target
- Southampton 6
- Chelsea 6
- Southampton 4
- Chelsea 12
- Southampton 13
- Chelsea 11