(Photo Credit/Source- London Evening Standard)
Goals;- Chelsea- none
Southampton secured a valuable point at the Bridge, as a toothless Chelsea side failed to breakdown a resolute Saints side.
Southampton have now kept their first clean sheet in eleven Premier League games.
On the day that Chelsea signed Christian Pulisic from Borussia Dortmund, the Blues have ended the day on a lame note after they failed to beat a revitalized and defensively solid Saints side at home.
The match started very slowly with both sides having half chances early on. Chelsea had the first half chance when a Morata header from a Azplicueta cross was well held by Gunn in the Saints goal. Down the other end, a Cedric cross was headed over Kepa’s bar by Danny Ings.
Chelsea had chances to get the lead before half-time, with the best chance of the half coming in the 33rd minute when Rüdiger’s long ball found Hazard who ran through one on one, but his effort thundered off the face of Angus Gunn who stood up tall and made a great save to deny the Belgian his 102nd goal for Chelsea.
Morata’s curling shot right before half time was well blocked Valery, as the Spaniards curling effort looked to be on target.
Chelsea’s injury list grew in the first half, as Willian walked slowly off the pitch in the 37th minute to be replaced by Loftus-Cheek.
As the Blues went into half-time at 0-0, they will be annoyed with how little they created, as they had most of the possession in the first half. For the Saints, they would have been happy with how they have contained the Blues.
The Austrian Saints boss would have wanted a bit more of a threat on the counter attack in the second half from his Saints side.
Saints made a change at half-time with Long coming on for Ings, and they nearly grabbed the first goal early on in the second half, as Armstrong’s long range curling effort in the 46th minute was parried away to safety by Kepa.
The controversial incident of the game midway through the second half as Alvaro Morata scored after a lovely through ball by Fabregas, but the flag went up for offside. The replays showed that the call was marginal, but he looked onside to Chelsea’s frustration.
Other than the offside goal, Chelsea had very few chances in the second half to grab a winner, with their best chance coming from Morata who’s effort from a tight angle was well saved by Gunn. Alonso had a few long shots late on, but it wasn’t enough for the blues as they drew 0-0, as they lacked a cutting edge throughout the whole 90 minutes.
They did however have two penalty shouts in the second half but the referee wasn’t interested in any of their appeals.
As the full time whistle went, Sarri’s Chelsea side were booed off the pitch after that lackluster performance.
Top 4 Race wide open
With Chelsea dropping points in this game, and with Arsenal and Manchester United winning their midweek games, the top 4 race has been blown wide open.
5th placed Arsenal are now 3 points behind the Blues after they beat Fulham by 4-1 yesterday.
6th placed Manchester United are only 6 points behind the Blues after they beat Newcastle 0-2 at Saint James’s Park this evening.
Match Statistics (Credit- BBC Sport)
Possession (%) 72 28
Shots 17 6
Shots on target 6 2
Corners 7 2
Fouls 8 11
Chelsea Player and Manager Ratings
Kepa- 7 (Made some good saves, and distribution was good today from the young Spaniard)
Azpilicueta- 6 (Delivering pathetic balls into the box)
Luiz- 7 (Defensively solid)
Rüdiger- 7 (Defensively solid)
Alonso- 6 (Didn’t offer too much to the game tonight. Too slow in the attacking phase)
Jorginho- 5 (Average)
Barkley- 3 (Poor- offered very little to the game tonight)
Kanté- 5 (Gave the ball away quite a few times in the attacking phase)
Willian- 4 (Unfortunate to get injured, but didn’t do too much when he was on the pitch)
Hazard- 6 (Tried hard but was locked out of the game. Made some good runs. but it is clear to see now that if you stop Hazard, then you stop Chelsea)
Morata- 5 (Unfortunate that his offside goal didn’t count as it looked onside)
Loftus-Cheek- 6 (Good pass for a Morata chance in the second half, but needs to be a little bit more greedy at shoot more sometimes when in a good position)
Fabregas- 7 (Actually made Chelsea play much better when he came on. Lovely through ball for Morata’s offside goal. It’s a shame that he may be leaving very soon)
Manager Rating: Maurizio Sarri- 6- Picked his strongest side considering all the injuries in this squad, but he can’t help the fact that most of these players in the side tonight are not good enough to play Sarriball. He needs to push the board to sign another winger and definitely a striker in the January transfer window.
Position in the Premier League table
Chelsea remain in fourth place with 44 points. This draw for the Saints takes them to 16 points, but after Burnley beat Huddersfield by 2-1 tonight, that means that the Saints drop into the relegation zones. They are only 2 points off Cardiff though, so they shouldn’t be panicking at this point in the season.
Next games for both teams
Both teams are next in FA Cup action on the weekend, with Chelsea hosting Nottingham Forests on Saturday at 3:00pm. The Saints travel to play Frank Lampard’s Derby at 3:00pm on Saturday. In terms of next Premier League action, Chelsea are next in action on the 12th of January at home to Newcastle on Saturday the 12th January at 5:30pm. The Blues do play their first leg of their Carabao Cup quarter finals against Tottenham before they are next in Premier League action. The Saints travel to Leicester on Saturday the 12th January to play Claude Puel’s foxes at 3:00pm.
Remember to check out my latest Opinion piece on the pros and cons of Arnautovic to Chelsea.
By Danyal Khan