Thomas Tuchel’s Chelsea made the trip to St. Mary’s Stadium for their Premier League matchday five clash with Southampton on Tuesday night (August 30).
Coming into the match on the back of a hard-fought 2-1 win over Leicester City, the Blues were expected to produce a stronger showing against Ralph Hasenhuttl’s side. Instead, it turned out to be another jaded performance by the Pensioners, with them succumbing to a 2-1 defeat away from home. Romeo Lavia and Adam Armstrong found the back of the net for the hosts, while Raheem Sterling scored the visitors’ only goal.
The game started on a mellow note, with neither team threatening the other in the opening 10 minutes. The visitors manufactured the first real chance of the match in the 14th minute when Mason Mount offloaded the ball to Sterling in a dangerous area. The Englishman cleverly took the ball around Armel Bella-Kotchap, but his left-footed effort was tame and was easily dealt with by Saints keeper Gavin Bazunu.
Nine minutes later, Mount and Sterling combined again, and this time, it resulted in a goal for the visitors. Mount squared the ball to the former Manchester City forward in the middle of the Southampton box. Left-back Romain Perraud put in a sliding tackle to clear it, but the ball went behind him and fell nicely for Sterling, who calmly slotted it home.
Chelsea’s lead, however, lasted only five minutes, with Lavia scoring from a thunderous strike from just outside the Blues’ box. A minute into first-half injury time, Southampton doubled their lead through Armstrong. Perraud delivered a low cross across the visitors’ box, setting up Armstrong, who confidently put his foot through the ball. Taking a deflection off Kalidou Koulibaly, the ball nestled into the top-right corner.
Tuchel’s men struggled to trouble the hosts in the second half, with them rarely making inroads into the Southampton box. Except for a couple of unconvincing headed attempts from Kai Havertz and Armando Broja, Chelsea did not threaten the Saints’ backline in the second 45.
Hasenhuttl’s side, on the other hand, came close to extending their lead on a couple of occasions. First, Marc Cucurella blocked Mohamed Elyounoussi’s header in the 54th minute to keep his side in the game. Twenty minutes later, Thiago Silva made a superb goalline clearance to clear Mohammed Salisu’s headed attempt.
It was a disappointing display by the six-time English champions, one where a majority of their stars failed to live up to the billing. Here are five players who were particularly disappointing in their 2-1 defeat to Southampton on Tuesday night:
#5 Ruben Loftus-Cheek
Ruben Loftus-Cheek paired up with Jorginho in the middle of the park on Tuesday. The Englishman struggled to deal with Southampton’s pacey midfielders and rarely made things happen further up the pitch. He was hooked at half-time, possibly due to a knee injury. His replacement, Mateo Kovacic, was a lot more dynamic in the middle and gave Chelsea a real sense of purpose.
Against Southampton, Loftus-Cheek misplaced seven of his 30 attempted passes, lost two ground duels, and ceded possession eight times. He attempted a tackle but was unsuccessful in winning the ball.
#4 Edouard Mendy
Chelsea keeper Edouard Mendy has not had the best of times lately, struggling to make the saves that he would even a few months back. Against Southampton, he produced another disappointing performance, failing to put a strong hand to Lavia’s rasping drive.
The Southampton man struck the ball cleanly, but it was not out of Mendy’s reach. The Senegalese got his hand on Lavia’s strike, but failed to parry the ball away. Mendy could do very little about Armstrong’s strike, though, as the deflection off Koulibaly’s body took him completely by surprise.
With N’Golo Kante out injured, the onus was on Jorginho to lead Chelsea’s midfield. The Italy international failed miserably at it, struggling to keep up with Southampton’s bubbling midfielders. Jorginho was often too slow to react and practically saw the game pass him by. He made a few good forward passes, but that was pretty much all he could conjure before being subbed out in the 67th minute.
The former Napoli midfielder lost three duels, ceded possession eight times, and attempted four tackles, two of which were successful. He was also dribbled past on a couple of occasions and took too long to track back for Southampton’s second goal.
#2 Kai Havertz
Kai Havertz started on the left side of the pensioners’ three-man attack on Tuesday night, with Sterling operating down the middle. The German rarely threatened the opposition with his work on the ball and was easily outmuscled.
The former Bayer Leverkusen man lodged only one shot on target, failed to complete even a single dribble (3 attempts), and misplaced six of 23 passes. Havertz also lost four of five ground duels, ceded possession 11 times, and was caught offside thrice before being taken off for Christian Pulisic in the 66th minute.
#1 Cesar Azpilicueta
Cesar Azpilicueta appeared in his 450th game for the Blues on Tuesday night. The milestone was undoubtedly commendable, but his performance could not do the occasion justice.
The skipper unnecessarily gave a corner away in the 27th minute and botched his clearance from it. The ball went straight to Lavia, who finished with aplomb. Azpilicueta’s defending was poor for Southampton’s second goal as well, with him completely misplacing Armstrong inside the box.
The Spaniard also lost a ground duel, ceded possession 15 times, and misplaced two long balls against Southampton on Tuesday.