The mood before kick-off was somewhat mixed. Southampton’s form has been mixed at the start of this season but with an evergreen Danny Ings and the very strong side, they were always going to provide Chelsea with a resolute challenge. Chelsea on the other hand was coming off the back of a very strong performance against Crystal Palace, with key squad players in Mason Mount, Timo Werner, and Kai Havertz all scoring on International duty. The stage was set for a competitive game, Chelsea being obvious favourites but doubting Southampton is never wise.
Pulisic starting gave all Chelsea fans an extra boost of confidence going into the game. The young American is when fit, a vital component of this Chelsea side. However, this confidence was balanced by the reemergence of Kepa starting following Mendy’s slight hamstring injury acquired on international duty. Reece James was also rested following his midweek outing for England and Hakim Ziyech is still on the bench as he looks ready to return very soon.
The first half began in the way all fans would like to see their side play. Chelsea dominating the ball with their attacking fluidity causing Southampton all sorts of issues. From the outset, Chilwell was absolutely dominating the left side of the pitch. Each cross was as accurate as an Olympic archer and it looked set that he was going to contribute once again to a Chelsea goal. Pulisic, Werner, Havertz, and Mount all looked very good together. Chemistry and balance, provided by Kante and Jorginho put Chelsea in the driving seat.
An incredible cross from Chilwell saw what Chelsea fans thought would be Timo Werner’s first Premier League goal. Alas, this was not to be due to the young German being slightly offside. This was the turning point of the half. Werner looked ready to score and shortly after, he did. Again Chilwell playing a pacey ball into Werner’s feet only for Timo to dummy the ball between his own legs, for it to beat the defender on the way through. He then reconnects with the ball, cuts in on his right foot, drops his shoulder, beast multiple Southampton players in the box, and slots the ball in the bottom left-hand corner of the net.
Shortly after, Jorginho demonstrates his world-class vision and passing ability by playing a long vertical ball over the Southampton defence for Timo Werner to run on to, loft the ball over the keeper, and head it in. Both goals were utterly incredible. Werner demonstrating exactly why he is one of the most highly-rated players in world football. Nonetheless, the quality of Chelsea’s first-half was dampened by conceding a silly goal. Havertz attempts to beat one too many men, giving away possession for Che Adams to play a simple through ball between Chelsea’s centre-halves to Danny Ings who effortlessly rounded Kepa. Game on.
The opening of the second half was about as settled as coke ann mentos. Chelsea looking depleted of confidence and cohesiveness. Even those who are partly deaf could hear the sounds of the circus approaching and soon enough, it did. A troubling ball from Oriel Romeu caught Kurt Zouma unawares allowing Che Adams to get in behind. During this Kepa decided to go for a quick sojourn and attempts rather limply to tackle Adams who manages somehow to get to the byline, for the ball in to be blocked by Azpilicueta, only to reappear at the feet of Adams who blasts it into the roof of the Chelsea net. At the best of times, Chelsea fans are not all too confident about the defence, this showed exactly why.
However, a response was fast incoming. Pulisic driving forward as he so often does plays a sweet ball into Timo Werner who channels his inner Usain Bolt to quickly burst into the Southampton box and play a relaxed pass across the six-yard box to give Kai Havertz his first Premier League goal. For now, the storm was calmed. Slightly.
Following the tumult of the opening of the second half, the game relaxed slightly. Chelsea fans were treated to the debut of Morrocan playmaker Hakim Ziyech, who Lampard would’ve rather played in a more easy-going game but bringing him on in a game like this was proof that Lampard is attempting to implement an attacking philosophy. Or, one could argue that he was trying to score more than the defence conceded, a challenge I’m sure you will agree.
In extra time, Chelsea once again looks so weak from set-pieces, and a deep free-kick bounces back out to Theo Walcott who manages to connect well and the ball comes off of Jannick Vestergaards and slots into the left side of the goal past the flapping Kepa. A very poor second half cements the result that Southampton fully deserves. This is a slow process for Lampard’s Blues, but to drop in confidence and completely lose their mentality after conceding once is pathetic. A dismal second half and a result that leaves fans rightly underwhelmed. A lot of positives, but a bitter taste left in the mouths of fans once again.
Written and edited by Jai Mcintosh @jjmcintosh5