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Our pre-match preparations are often enlivened by discussions over unexpected Southampton team selections, and the XI for the visit of Chelsea was no exception, when Long and Austin were announced in preference to the partnership of Pellè and Mané from the successful line-up at Stamford Bridge, both omitted players on the bench. Saints started brightly, but couldn’t break through, with Long heading over from the best early chance. In fact Chelsea were establishing some sort of superiority by the time Long did find the net shortly before half-time: a nice finish to punish an error by Baba. The game continued in much the same vein after the interval, but Southampton’s long streak without conceding an goal since Forster’s return gave every confidence that they could keep their ‘galactico’ opponents at bay. It was not to be, although the keeper had gone on to write his way into local record books by the time he was beaten for the first time in over 700 minutes. And a sad end to the run it was too, with an innocuous cross from Fabregas finding its way into the net with Forster in two minds whether to gather the ball or cover Hazard’s presence in the middle, and he chose wrong. There was also controversy about this game changing moment as referee Atkinson chose to ignore a flag from his assistant, apparently in Saints’ favour, at the other end before the visitors broke down their right. There were only fifteen minutes remaining and Chelsea had been looking more and more frustrated, with Costa showing why he is often portrayed as a villain by attempting to score after his colleagues were trying to give the ball back after one of those gentlemanly throw-in situations. TV replays showed that Austin might have been hard done by when a penalty shout was turned down, but in truth Saints never did enough to win. Whether they deserved to lose is open to doubt, but they got nothing out of the game thanks to an 89th minute header from a corner by Ivanovic, the sort of effort that Forster had up to now always been keeping out.

LSSC Man of the Match: Cédric Soares, whose defensive frailties may be masked by Mr. Koeman’s three-at-the-back tactic.

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