Chelsea 3 Southampton 1: Five things we learned
Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea side came back from conceding a goal in the first minute of their clash against Southampton on Sunday to win three points and close the gap on table toppers Arsenal.
Despite Jay Rodriguez’s opener, goals from John Terry, Gary Cahill and Demba Ba gave the hosts a hard-fought victory.
Here are five things we can take from the game.
Southampton’s progress continues
Despite leaving Stamford Bridge empty handed, Southampton showed the required industry, bravery and collective spirit to suggest that the south coast side can finish in the top six this season.
No longer a soft touch, Mauricio Pochettino has drilled his men with a game plan that presses opponents and makes them hard to break down.
When Nigel Adkins was sacked many of the St Mary’s faithful were outraged, but the decision looks like a masterstroke now.
Michael Essien is a spent force
The experienced midfielder was given his first Premier League start of the season and it began with the most horrendous of errors.
Despite the early mistake, the African battler looked decidedly off the pace and a shell of the player that dominated games for Mourinho during his first tenure in west London.
Removed at half-time, the Ghanaian may have to wait a while for more time on the pitch.
Ramires a key midfield man
Highlighted by Essien’s inept showing, Chelsea are lacking a bit of urgency and energy in the heart of their team but this was offered up by Ramires.
Despite not getting the plaudits associated to some of the higher profile players in the Blues’ side, the Brazil international is a key figure in the Chelsea midfield.
His willingness to get through hard work and do the necessary allow more attacking minded players the free reign to express themselves.
Mata must play
The mercurial Spanish playmaker was brought back into the side and was the creative force to ensure that the Blues fought their way back from a goal down.
Neat passing, superb vision and excellent delivery were on display, with Mata’s performance again showing how baffling it is that he has not been in the team more this term.
A more rounded and able option than most of Chelsea’s other attacking midfielders, a focused Mata could be the attacking talisman to see the club fight for major honours this season.
Luke Shaw could be Ashley Cole’s replacement
Southampton’s prodigious left-back put in an excellent showing and looks more than comfortable at Premier League level. His future certainly is bright.
With the Blues in search of a left-back to replace Ashley Cole in the long-term and Cesar Azpilicueta playing on the wrong flank, Shaw could be an excellent option for the Stamford Bridge side.