Chelsea v Southampton
2nd January 2019
An outstanding Premier League debut for Angus Gunn in the Saints goal
IBO Reporter : channonite
I think it fair to say that the mood of the fans was one of disappointment after the defeat by West Ham and then Højbjerg's sending off during the expected defeat at the hands of Manchester City. With both of these being home games, it understandably tended to dominate the thoughts of most fans.
So, how would Ralph Hasenhüttl set out his stall for this match?
The biggest surprise was the resting of McCarthy and replacement by 22 year old Angus Gunn. It didn't just end there though. We had a back three of Bednarek, Yoshida and Vestergaard, with the wing backs either side of them being Valery on the right and Cédric on the left. Midfield was Romeu and Ward-Prowse, with Redmond and Armstrong out wide. On his own at the front again was Danny Ings. So, only Bednarek, Romeu and Ward-Prowse were left from the side that lost 3-1 to Manchester City.
Nothing much of note happened during the first few minutes and it wasn't until just short of the quarter hour mark, before the first chance was created by Chelsea, when Morata guided a glancing header directly into the arms of the diving Gunn.
The set up of Saints was already clearly one of containment, and almost by definition there would not be much in the way of attacking play today. Just contain and hope to catch them on the break, which is what they did, shortly after Morata's effort, when Cédric broke down the left, crossing to Ings, whose headed effort went over the bar.
The Saints defenders were doing a good job of containing Chelsea and when the Blues got behind them, it was mostly down to long passes defence.
It was one such long pass that found Hazard who, from close range, must have thought it was a certain goal, but it brought probably the best of several stops throughout the game from Gunn.
Saints did have a lucky escape just before the break, when a shot from Morata deflected off Valery and just flew wide of the post, with Gunn going the wrong way.
So, halftime and still 0-0. Which was impressive, as Chelsea had made virtually all the running so far.
Saints were forced into a change at the beginning of the second half, with Shane Long replacing Danny Ings, who seems to have been carrying an injury towards the end of the previous 45 minutes.
The team in red, black and white were in the ascendancy to begin with, Stuart Armstrong forcing the Chelsea keeper into pushing his 25 yard shot around the post.
The game ebbed and flowed, with neither side able to get the upper hand for more than a few moments. Eventually Chelsea tried something different sending on Fàbregas for Barkley and it almost paid off when the Spaniard played in Morata who had the ball in the net and the home fans thought Chelsea had scored, missing the assistant referee's offside flag. Ha! and indeed HA! That was the nearest they got to scoring in this match.
As the match reached it's climax, Chelsea ramped up the pressure. We Saints fans have become used to this being the point at which goals were conceded over the last couple of seasons, but this was different. Saints didn't concede, they held firm. Amazing.
There was one final drama right at end when there was a strong appeal for a penalty, when Alonzo went down in the Saints penalty area after a challenge from Shane Long. The referee, our friend Mr Jon Moss waved away the appeals. this really was our day.
Almost immediately after this, Jon Moss blew the final whistle and that was it. 0-0 and a very hard won point with a clean sheet.
Man of the Match
There were several candidates in this battling performance, but I guess that the obvious one is the League debut performance of Angus Gunn and I am willing to bet that is not the last time that he earns this recognition.
Yes, Saints CAN earn a clean sheet, but unfortunately at the moment it seems to be at the expense of offering any sort of forward threat. Let's just hope that when all the January transfer window manoeuvring has been completed that we end up with a slightly more stable defence.
Looking back at what Ralph Hasenhüttl has achieved in the short time that he has been at Southampton is amazing. Not least of which is taking points off two 'Top Six'© sides. That is something us fans had forgotten about.
Another good performance for Yan Valery, who had to contain Eden Hazard all evening
2 Rüdiger - Booked 74'
30 David Luiz
8 Barkley (Fàbregas 68')
22 Willian (Loftus-Cheek 37')
10 E Hazard
35 Bednarek - Booked 30'
22 Redmond (Stephens 90'+5)
14 Romeu - Booked 79'
17 Armstrong (Austin 89')
9 Ings (Long 45')
Referee: Jonathan Moss
- Chelsea 72%
- Southampton 28%
- Chelsea 17
- Southampton 6
Shots on Target
- Chelsea 6
- Southampton 2
- Chelsea 7
- Southampton 2
- Chelsea 8
- Southampton 11