Cobham Commutes #14: Blues smash Southampton on the South Coast

In this series, I review my in-ground experience throughout the campaign, this time for Southampton away. It’s split into two columns, one for home games and the other for away days. I run through various topics from atmosphere to a game review and give some unique observations directly from stadiums up and down the country.

Journey to the Game: Southampton at St Mary’s Stadium

Following a week in which I’d already witnessed Chelsea ship seven goals at home to Brentford and Real Madrid (I never imagined I’d be putting those two teams in the same sentence), it was something of a relief to be getting away from Stamford Bridge and down to the South Coast for my first away day in over a month.

It was also a welcome relief to have a quick turnaround from that midweek horror show in the Champions League, with this game coming just three days later. Plus, with the focus now seemingly almost entirely focused on achieving a top four spot in the league this season, the match took on a new level of importance.

As for the journey to the game, it was one of the simplest of the season for me, as I hopped on a train from London Waterloo and, around an hour and a quarter later, I was at Southampton Central station. An easy enough 20 minute walk followed before I reached the ground, capping off a relatively easy journey.

Stadium Summary

I’ve visited St Mary’s Stadium once before, back in the 2017/18 season – you know, the one where Antonio Conte totally lost the plot and the season descended into chaos but somehow ended up with an FA Cup win (after which Willian posted a photo of the team with the trophy, covering up the manager with trophy emojis)? You remember it, right?

Regardless, that was one of few positives during that campaign, as the Blues completed an extraordinary 3-2 comeback in just 10 minutes, having been 2-0 down in the 70th minute. I say all that because I already had a pretty good idea of what Southampton’s ground was like, and I was pleased to be returning.

The outside of Southampton’s stadium
The outside of Southampton’s stadium

It opened in 2001, and so still feels relatively modern in comparison to some other grounds, while also maintaining a close feel, being only a lower tier. It also provides a big allocation for away fans, of over 3,000, which is always an added bonus, especially considering tickets are so hard to come by these days.

As for my seat itself, I was pretty lucky with where I had been allocated, seeing as the rows range all the way from C at the front (again, why do these systems never start with A?), all the way to NN. I was in Row S, which meant I wasn’t too high enough to feel far away from the pitch, but also was able to get a perspective of the action down the other end too.

Plus, I had the fortune of being fairly central within the visiting supporters’ section too, rather than being thrust out to the side, further wide of the pitch than the sideline. That, combined with the genuinely large enough for its purpose concourse made this one of my favourite grounds to visit this season.

My view against Southampton
My view against Southampton

Southampton 0-6 Chelsea: Game Review

Coming into this game, I was a little nervous about what might happen given the two most recent displays. As it turns out, I needn’t have been worried whatsoever, as the Blues responded in style by coming out firing right from the off in this one.

Every time we went forward we looked like scoring, with Marcos Alonso getting us going after a silky team move up the pitch. The second was scored by Mason Mount from long range, who tucked away from distance to put the Blues firmly in control.

Next up was an excellent counter attack, predominantly from Timo Werner, who ran the pitch before rounding the keeper to make it three. And finally, to cap off an absolutely sublime first half, Kai Havertz finished off another passing move.

It was perhaps to be expected that the second half wouldn’t have quite as much action as the first, with the team likely to sit back a little more in order to conserve some energy, though it didn’t seem as though it would be that way at first.

The Blues came out the blocks quickly following the interval as Mason Mount got his second of the game, and the Portsmouth fan looked delighted to have scored against the Saints. Not long after Werner got his brace too, with an easy tap in to make it 6-0.

My only complaint about the day would be that we didn’t take advantage of Southampton’s terrible display and score even more. But, really, it would be ridiculous to even come close to being annoyed about such a huge win on the road, with it finishing 6-0 eventually.

Things you don’t see and hear on TV

The first thing to point out is something that happened before I even got inside the stadium, which was that I bought a programme as I headed towards the gate. It may sound like an incredibly mundane detail, but I haven’t been able to do so at home games since the sanctions were introduced, so that was a nice return to normality.

It was an almost comical atmosphere at times, especially early on, when the sheer scale of the Southampton defensive collapse had to be seen to be believed. There were moments after goals when people looked around at one another in disbelief at what was happening.

You had to feel a bit for the home fans when they witnessed an utter horror show from their perspective to be in the first 45 minutes. The customary ‘Cheerio’ came out as Saints fans began leaving on half an hour, but also a rendition of ‘When the Saints go marching out’ which was a nice alteration.

It spoke volumes of the quality of the first half performance that there were ‘Ole’s’ for every pass just under 30 minutes into the game, as Chelsea fans revelled in the sunshine. That, along with the away end bouncing to Timo Werner’s chant over and over again reflected the exuberant mood among visiting supporters.

Finally, there was a reference to the days of Jose Mourinho, when opposition fans would berate our style of play as being dull. And so, as the away fans exited the ground, they changed ‘Boring, boring Chelsea’ to many ironic cheers of course.

In the end though, today’s performance was exactly what was needed after something of a horror week up to this point. Tuchel spoke of his anger with the performances, and it’s clear his message went through to the players ahead of this game.

Now the attention will inevitably shift to the game on Tuesday night which, while looking more positive after today’s performance, will still be an incredibly tough task. But if we do get that early goal then, without wanting to tempt fate, you never know what might happen.

Let’s just hope for a Miracle in Madrid.

Written and Edited by Noah Robson (@noahrobson_)

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