Chelsea Home Lost 2 – 0
Bertrand returned to face his old club, Chelsea, at St. Mary’s but no place in the Premier League starting line-up for Boufal and still no sign of Soares. Saints fell behind early on from an attack down Bertrand’s flank, but it was more a question of Davis failing to handle Hazard‘s break behind the full back, and Forster failing to keep out the eventual shot at the near post. Manager Puel reflected on this setback in his inimitable way: “it’s hard to take a goal so quickly, in their first action of the game.” Well, yes, but these things do happen and a team that is both goal-shy and shot-shy for all the control they often apply is always going to struggle to cope with such a situation. In this game, though, that control wasn’t there against a very focussed Chelsea team, although the eventual stats still show Southampton winning the possession battle. A second goal for the visitors ten minutes into the second half left both sides in little doubt as to the eventual outcome – and it was a good strike too by Costa, although Martina’s efforts to effect a block seemed to be half-hearted because of a concern about an apparent threat to his right, and they have no doubt been discussed at the squad’s debriefing. Boufal came on for Clasie on the hour, giving him 17 minutes of game time alongside Tadić until the Serb was surprisingly replaced himself. By then it could easily have been 0-3 but for some desperate blocking after Forster had spilled a shot from Moses, while Saints struggled to force a meaningful save from Courtois as the Blues did a fine job on Redmond, usually our biggest threat. We did get the ball past the ‘keeper, though, when Austin was denied by a marginal but correct offside flag, but maybe getting the benefit of the doubt will be better left for a time when it’s more likely to effect the result.
LSSC Man of the Match: Jose Fonte – not an easy decision when no-one played particularly well. With their budget, Chelsea are always going to be formidable opponents for Southampton if they are on form and well coached – not always the case, but it was on this occasion.