Chelsea kicked off 2019 on a disappointing note as they were held to a drab 0-0 draw by a spirited Southampton side on Wednesday night.
The day had started with positive news for Chelsea fans, as the Blues completed the signing of Christian Pulisic from Borussia Dortmund. The mood in the dressing room ought to have been positive as well, following successive away wins at Watford and Crystal Palace, but they failed to start the game with the right intensity.
In fact, the first half saw chances come few and far between from either side, with Eden Hazard coming the closest to score for Chelsea after Antonio Rudiger threaded in a beautiful long ball through, with Southampton debutant Angus Gunn thwarting him and Alvaro Morata.
A similar pattern ensued in the second half, although Southampton did force Kepa Arrizabalaga into action early on after the break. But, Chelsea failed to break down the visiting defence once again, despite each of their outfield player taking at least one shot at goal.
— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) January 2, 2019
With the game ending in a goalless draw, Chelsea have now failed to win each of their last two home games, with Arsenal and Manchester United closing the gap to them. The Hard Tackle now runs the rule over Maurizio Sarri’s men following yet another disappointing showing.
Kepa Arrizabalaga: 6/10
A quiet night for Kepa, who had little to do for much of the game. The Spaniard was called into action a couple of times, but he didn’t have any problems making the two saves. Distributed the ball well too, with some of his precise balls ensuring Chelsea controlled the game.
Cesar Azpilicueta: 7/10
Azpilicueta was as Azpilicueta usually is. Solid at the back, very little went past the Chelsea captain, with the Southampton wide men barely troubling him. Going forward, there were signs that the Spaniard was set to rekindle last season’s much revered combination with Alvaro Morata. But, after an early chance, he failed to create much.
Antonio Rudiger: 7/10
Rudiger wasn’t tested much on the night and, when he was, the German dealt with the threat quite easily, only needing David Luiz to bail him out on one occasion. Showed great quality on the ball as well, creating the biggest chance of the match when he sent Eden Hazard clean through on goal. Not as great a threat in the opposition box as he usually has been during his Chelsea spell.
David Luiz: 8/10
Luiz has been in his elements for quite some time now, and the Brazilian was impressive yet again on Wednesday. In fact, bar one moment when N’Golo Kante bailed him out, Luiz barely put a foot wrong, showing some slick footwork while being diligent in his defensive duties. Almost got an assist through a long driven ball to Eden Hazard but Angus Gunn came forward to collect it from the Belgian’s foot.
Chelsea’s best defender at the moment.
Marcos Alonso: 5/10
Another day, another game when Alonso was far from his best. A liability now defensively, the Spaniard was slow to react to the threat on his flank and, going forward, he barely did much. Will probably be rested in Chelsea’s FA Cup tie, and it will be a much needed rest for him.
N’Golo Kante: 7/10
An energetic performance from the tireless Kante, who tried his utmost to help break the lines in the final third and create something for his side. Put in a major shift defensively, as he so often does. But, he seems to be relishing the new side to his game, although he still lacks a bit of the finishing touch to make him a world class box-to-box midfielder in Sarri’s system.
After all the initial hype, Jorginho has become a shell of the midfield orchestrator that dominated the battle in the middle of the park in the early stages of the season. On Wednesday, barely any pass threatened, in another outing that prompted the need to rest the Italian international. The gruelling festive schedule is taking its toll.
Ross Barkley: 6/10
Barkley was another player who flattered to deceive on Wednesday. The Englishman was greatly involved whenever Chelsea pressed forward, but his decision making often left a lot to be desired. His trademark driving runs were missing as well, and he was eventually taken off for Cesc Fabregas.
Another player whose poor decision making was the difference between a goal and a chance gone a-begging. Willian started the game well, pressing smartly to take the ball off the Southampton midfielders. But, the Brazilian could have set Hazard up for a golden opportunity when he decided to take aim at goal from an impossible angle. Taken off in the first half after picking up an injury.
Alvaro Morata: 5/10
Álvaro Morata has now been flagged offside 20 times in the Premier League this season; only Chris Wood (21) and Aleksandar Mitrović (23) have been caught more times.
Maybe it should still be 19. 😳 pic.twitter.com/WXrUDTgFPQ
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) January 2, 2019
Morata started the game quite well, as he showed a willingness to drop deep to help his team out in the press. Was gifted a decent chance as well, before Angus Gunn denied him. But, as the game wore on, the Spaniard became increasingly anonymous, although he was wrongly judged offside in a moment that would have put Chelsea ahead at long last.
Still, he needs to do more, and a top class striker would, in such games. That top class striker may well be on his way to Stamford Bridge soon.
Eden Hazard: 6.5/10
Unsurprisingly, Hazard carried the biggest threat for Chelsea on Wednesday. But, as has been evident in many games, if the opposition manages to mark him out of the game, they have the Blues completely negated. The Belgian did get the biggest chance of the game, but could only manage to smash the ball into Gunn’s face.
Ruben Loftus-Cheek: 6/10
Called into action earlier than anticipated, Loftus-Cheek showed great verve to put Southampton under the pump. But, he was clearly called back early, with Sarri struggling to make the numbers in his squad. Still, with Willian now sidelined, the English international could be set for a bigger role in attack.
Cesc Fabregas: 7/10
Given 20 minutes or so to make an impact, Fabregas showed a lot of incisiveness whenever he got on the ball, showing exactly what Jorginho was lacking. His 500th appearance in English football might just be his last, with a January move away from Stamford Bridge being mooted.