Chelsea 1-1 Saints
Southampton took on Chelsea suitably refreshed after a 3/4 season break in Switzerland, courtesy of an early cup exit; the league leaders had also benefitted from a free weekend, but a Champions League defeat wouldn’t have helped their preparation. Crucially, though, Saints had Alderweireld available for the first time since his injury at Old Trafford, and the Belgian is the best equipped of our players to take on the Stamford Bridge galácticos, while others in that category are Schneiderlin and Wanyama – all three had key roles in securing a hard-earned point that looked unlikely after Costa had headed the hosts into an twelfth minute lead.
Saints almost hit back immediately with a decent raid, but Mané couldn’t quite get the ball out from under his feet and Courtois was able to save. The Chelsea lead was looking precarious and Tadić soon had an opportunity to wipe it out from the spot after Mané went down under an untidy challenge from Matić. The midfielder retained his penalty duties despite a miss at Burnley and the presence of Long on the pitch, and duly upped his record to 66% (although the two efforts that have found the net have been decidedly unconvincing).
Courtois remained the busier of the two keepers in the opening period, but it was Forster who took all the plaudits in the second half, despite having failed to come for the cross that had led to Costa’s goal. What he does best is make blocks, and there were several of them as the Blues began to take control of the game, but Saints kept their shape well and just about held on, despite Terry coming mighty close to a winner in the final minutes.
Inevitably Sr. Mourinho found fault in the refereeing, but TV talk also centred on Mr. Dean’s leniency to Matić after a dubious tackle on Mané failed to earn him a second caution – that’s the sort of trivia that live action fans miss out on, and we must give thanks for the ticket subsidy that made the occasion just about affordable.
LSSC Man of the Match: Morgan Schneiderlin, as voted for by non-LSSC members at Clapham after John Smith and I failed to separate Alderweireld, Wanyama and Schneiderlin (put that down to the 6.8% stout in the pub as well).