Chelsea enter the international break with top four in sight, as they beat Southampton 4-1 at St. Mary’s Stadium on Sunday afternoon.
Southampton took the game to Chelsea in the early exchanges, with the game largely being played out in midfield. But, the visitors soon found their groove and broke the deadlock in the 17th minute, when Tammy Abraham latched on to Callum Hudson-Odoi’s through ball, lobbing the ball over Angus Gunn.
Minutes later, Chelsea were two to the good, as Mason Mount scored after some fine link-up between Jorginho and Willian. But, Southampton pulled a goal back at the half hour mark, with some schoolboy defending by Chelsea allowed Danny Ings to find the back of the net.
Chelsea, though, had their two-goal cushion five minutes from half-time, with Kante scored from range, helped by a heavy deflection. A professional display ensured the Blues were in control in the second half before they rounded the win off in the 89th minute, when Michy Batshuayi scored after being teed up by Christian Pulisic.
The win, fourth in a row for Chelsea across all competitions, has taken the West Londoners to fifth on the Premier League table. The Hard Tackle now runs the rule over Frank Lampard’s men.
Kepa Arrizabalaga: 5/10
A largely quiet game for Kepa, with Southampton not threatening the Chelsea goalkeeper much. But, it is his distribution that left a lot to be desired, twice putting Fikayo Tomori under undue pressure while also passing the ball straight to Nathan Redmond on one occasion. Could not have done much to stop the Southampton goal.
Cesar Azpilicueta: 7/10
Another showing to point towards a resurgence after a slow start to the season. The Chelsea captain was a constant outlet in the final third, although his delivery lacked precision at times. Dealt with the threat of Ryan Bertrand well, shutting the wing-back down effectively.
Kurt Zouma: 5/10
After a decent outing at Lille, this was Zouma’s chance to cement his place in defence. But, the Frenchman failed to impress, in what was a throwback to the first month of the season. While he was pretty assured for much of the game, Zouma made a horrendous error while marking Danny Ings, scrambling to contain the Southampton striker before he scored. Schoolboy error.
Fikayo Tomori: 4/10
A first failure for Tomori after what has been a solid start to life as a senior Chelsea player. Right from the get-go, the youngster looked a bit nervy, losing the ball in sloppy fashion. He then let Yan Valery put a low cross in for Ings’s goal before giving possession away in a dangerous area, only to be bailed out by Jorginho. More composed in the second half, when Chelsea were barely troubled.
Marcos Alonso: 6.5/10
Oddly enough, Alonso was the least of Chelsea’s problems defensively. The only moment where he was unimpressive when he was beaten by Valery in the build-up to the Southampton goal. Otherwise, the Spaniard was rather diligent in his defensive duties and a threat going forward. Provided the assist for his side’s third goal, finding Kante in acres of space.
N’Golo Kante: 8/10
Chelsea’s Mr. Dependable was at it yet again. Once more, Kante proved that he is a dangerous outlet for the Blues in the final third, showing the adventurous side of his game time and again. As can be expected from the Frenchman, he was tireless in his defensive output, providing cover to the Chelsea backline with aplomb. Lampard will hope he is done with his injury troubles.
The newly-named Chelsea vice-captain vindicated Lampard’s decision to hand him more responsibility by producing a masterclass of a performance. Jorginho showed once again that he has added layers to his game, covering up for the defenders behind him, most notably when he made a stunning block to stop a goalbound effort following an error by Tomori.
Linked up marvellously with Willian in the build-up to Mount’s goal and kept play ticking by making quick, incisive passes. Jorginho has well and truly turned it around and amid the youth revolution at the club, he is the one making it all work.
Willian has perhaps, been Chelsea’s best player in the last month or so, at a time when Mount and Abraham had slightly gone off the boil. And, the Brazilian continued his rich vein of form against Southampton. Sliced open the Saints’ defence to set Mount up after linking up with Jorginho.
His typical work-rate was there to be seen all throughout. Bar the odd wasteful moment, this was another strong showing by Willian, who is finally embracing the leadership role in the side.
Mason Mount: 8/10
Deployed in the no. 10 role where he flourishes the most, Mount was back to being his nippy best. His link-up with Abraham and Callum Hudson-Odoi was a stuff of delight and sign of things to come for years. Got his name on the score sheet as well, with a delectable first touch sending him clean through on goal before he finished past Angus Gunn.
Callum Hudson-Odoi: 7/10
Perhaps, the best news to come out of the game for Chelsea fans. Hudson-Odoi is now fully fit and ready to become a regular. Boosts the creativity quotient of the team manifold, his tricky movement creates pockets of space, ones that Mount and Kante can exploit best. Set Abraham with a delightful pass. A tad bit selfish at times, but that outlook should get him some goals.
Tammy Abraham: 8/10
No player has scored more Premier League goals so far this season (8) than Tammy Abraham.
That’s an incredible lob. ⤴️⤵️ pic.twitter.com/8ikpJU81w0
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) October 6, 2019
Showed a deadly striker’s instinct to grab the opening goal of the game, lobbing the ball over Gunn to hand Chelsea the lead. His movement was a source of grave concern for Southampton defenders, as it allowed Mount and Hudson-Odoi to occupy advanced positions. Growing into his role with each passing game.
Mateo Kovacic: N/A
On for the final ten minutes, Kovacic helped Chelsea see the game out.
Christian Pulisic: N/A
A sight for sore eyes for Chelsea fans, Pulisic would have made an impression on Lampard by setting Michy Batshuayi up for the final goal of the game.
Michy Batshuayi: 7/10
Introduced in place of Abraham, Batshuayi got his name on the score sheet with a fine finish late into regulation time.