Southampton were in a run of six straight defeats and provided Chelsea a great chance to win a sixth game in a row under Thomas Tuchel. The form was good and spirits were high. The German’s side seemed off the boil though and missed out on the chance to go within a point of Leicester City and Manchester United. Nevertheless, here are five things we learnt from the game.
Forward men need to be more ruthless with chances as Southampton effectively shut out Werner and co.
Timo Werner and Tammy Abraham both started against Ralph Hasenhuttl’s Southampton. Two men that compliment each other very well and recently, they have impressed under Tuchel. But there is still a desperate need for them to take their chances when they come their way. Yes, Werner is showing signs that he is becoming more confident with the ball at his feet and running at players, but he still needs to find that cutting edge in front of goal. Many times today he found himself in good situations but he either ended the chance with a bad final pass or a poor shot.
With Tammy Abraham, I feel he is still suffering slightly with this ankle problem he suffered against Newcastle, but he really needs to start being more alert when chances come his way and like Thomas Tuchel said post-match today, he needs to start putting his stamp on games from the start.
Ziyech needs to start showing his quality
When Callum Hudson-Odoi replaced Tammy Abraham at half time today, we expected him to continue his impressive form, in the hope that he could help turn the game around. But he lasted only half an hour, being replaced by Hakim Ziyech, with Tuchel saying after the match he wasn’t happy with the young winger’s energy.
As we know, Ziyech has fantastic ability to unlock any defence with his wand of a left foot, but since just before Frank Lampard left and Tuchel arrived, he has looked so out of sorts, as if he hasn’t stepped on a football pitch in months. Today was yet another one of many games that Ziyech needs to move on from. If things don’t improve performance-wise for him soon, he could find himself out of favour for good. We all know the quality is there but he needs to start showing it quickly.
Was a trip to Southampton the right time to start Zouma?
With Thiago Silva out injured, Andreas Christensen was expected to be his temporary replacement. We’ve seen him start games since our beastly Brazilian has been out but today, it was Kurt Zouma that stepped in at central centreback today.
Was Tuchel looking at resting Christensen for Tuesday? Perhaps, but it is common knowledge that Zouma is short of game time and many would have preferred to see Christensen start in a game we knew would be tough. He was good at times today, Zouma, but there were things he could have done better. This is not to say that Zouma shouldn’t start Premier League games going forward, but he needs easing in a bit more via substitute appearances perhaps, before we see him in the starting XI again.
N’golo Kante has still got it as the Frenchman shows his class against Southampton
There was another surprising inclusion in today’s starting XI, with N’Golo Kante replacing Jorginho. The Italian has been excellent alongside Mateo Kovacic in the midfield pivot under Tuchel’s management, so it was intriguing to see how Kante performed alongside Kovacic and my, did he impress.
From the first minute he was getting into tackles, covering every blade of grass like always – doing what he does best. Despite some poor first touches at times – he wasn’t the only culprit of this – he was arguably Man of the Match today and he really helped defensively and at times going forward. Many have been saying he has recently not been the same player he once was but this performance would suggest otherwise. Kante still has all the ability to be a crucial part of Tuchel’s project at Chelsea.
Even the smallest wrong decisions are costing us
If Chelsea want to really start putting pressure on the teams above them, they have to perform to a ‘T’ in every game, especially against every teams below them in the table. They have to be perfect and today was an alarming sign that there is still a lot of things that need working on. The final pass, messing about with the ball when there is a chance to shoot, lapses in concentration in defence. All things that need serious work.
Take Southampton’s goal. Poor communication, positioning, call it what you want. Minamino should not have had such a big space to occupy between Azpilicueta and Zouma on the edge of the box – that just cannot happen at this level especially when top four is on the line.
Tuchel will no doubt feel aggrieved at today’s performance, he was understandably an unhappy man in the first half with the way Chelsea were playing and despite a slight improvement in the second half where the equaliser came, there is still a lot of things that need work. The Blues’ run of fixtures between now and throughout March will no doubt be the toughest period of this season and they will soon begin to see what this team is really made of.
Written by Luka Foley @UOGLuka
Edited by Tom Coley @tomcoley49
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