Following on from Chelsea’s defeat to Borussia Dortmund on the road in the Champions League, the Blues took a lot of positives away from the result. Although the match ended in a narrow loss, the away team dominated the match – producing chance after chance but as the story has been for the last couple of years, Chelsea couldn’t find the back of the net. On Saturday, attention turned back to the Premier League, as the Blues came up against struggling Southampton in a must win game at Stamford Bridge.
Graham Potter rested big players – Reece James, Thiago Silva, Marc Cucurella and Hakim Ziyech missed this weekends fixture, though there were deserved starts for Noni Madueke, David Datro Fofana and a return from injury for Mateo Kovacic.
The game did not play out how the home fans were expecting. The fixture turned out to be a really bitty game, with a combined 40 fouls, meaning there was no flow and Southampton’s tactic of stopping the game regularly worked. James Ward-Prowse scored yet another free-kick to seal a fantastic 0-1 victory for Southampton.
Again, the home team failed to fire or find any rhythm moving forward – managing 17 shots with only 5 on target. The defeat piles heaps of pressure of Graham Potter and as the full time whistle blew, the home fans let their feelings be known with boos as the players left the field. Chelsea have won just two games from their last 14 in all competitions, but Southampton will hope the win can help them get on a good run of form that will see them escape the dreaded bottom three.
Graham Potter is out of his depth
With just two wins in the last 14 games from all competitions for Graham Potter, the pressure is really building on the young manager. Chelsea are currently sitting in 10th – 11 points from the bottom three and if they don’t overturn the first leg defeat to Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League, the Blues’ chances of silverware this season will be well and truly over.
Potter had a great spell at Brighton, however he’s struggled to make the transition to managing a team at the top level where the minimum expectation is to win or finish in the top four. The new board’s excessive spending (over £600 million in two transfer windows) means there’s added pressure on Potter. There of course is a time period that is given when new players arrive to get settled in, but high-quality players shouldn’t need too long to settle in and a manager should be looking to get the best out of his squad. Todd Boehly has said there won’t be any rash changes in the backroom staff, but as the defeats keep rolling in, time could be limited for the Chelsea manager.
David Datro Fofana deserves more opportunities
The Ivorian was given his first start by Graham Potter, after many fans have been calling for the striker to be starting due to the lack of goals in recent times. Fofana looked bright and dangerous, producing efforts and forcing saves from the Southampton goalkeeper, Bazunu.
The 20-year-old also showed composure on the ball and the ability to run at pace with or without the ball at his feet. Fofana was taken off at half time which seemed to be a mistake, but Potter later explained that the decision was made to bring Raheem Sterling on to force play out into the wide areas. It will be interesting to see what happens moving forward in the striker role for Chelsea, as with the lack of an out-and-out number nine, fans will hope Fofana is given further chances to show his ability.
Chelsea still lack a goalscorer
Chelsea’s issues have been down to a real lack of chances being created and the poor quality of finishing when those chances do arise. With Kai Havertz deployed up front despite not being a clinical finisher, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang seriously out of favour and David Fofana recently joining the team, there is no real goalscorer that Chelsea can rely on to put the ball in the back of the net on a regular basis. The new signings of Joao Felix, Mykhailo Mudryk and Noni Madueke will be required to provide the goals that are currently missing, if Chelsea are to have any chance of some kind of success this season.
Is James Ward-Prowse the best free-kick taker in PL history?
The Southampton midfielder scored yet another fantastic free-kick at Stamford Bridge, and is now beaten by only David Beckham for the most amount of Premier League goals scored from direct free-kicks. When the Englishman stepped up to strike, there was a feeling that he was almost guaranteed to score!
Ward-Prowse found the bottom corner with ease and not only did he score the winner, but he produced a fantastic performance in the middle of the park for his team, winning midfield battles and stopping any Chelsea counter attacks.
Southampton ready to fight to avoid relegation
The Saints fought very well in their away trip to Stamford Bridge and to come away with three points is arguably their biggest success so far this season. Currently sitting bottom of the league, the result was a fantastic start for interim manager Ruben Selles who will be hoping his team can continue their survival battle as they take the trip to Leeds next week in what will be a relegation six-pointer.
The players showed desire, drive and heart in a game that no-one really expected the away team to get a result from – however it won’t be an easy task to make sure they survive the drop zone come the end of the season.