Chelsea Away Lost 4 – 2
No new injuries and no fresh bans before the rearranged match at Chelsea but there were changes: Romeu back after suspension (as expected, and with the manager singing his praises), and Boufal given a starting berth (few saw that coming, including the displaced Redman). It took only six minutes for the league leaders to go ahead, Costa setting up Hazard to stroke the ball home: maybe Forster could have been better placed and maybe Bertrand could have reacted better to Costa’s pass, but in truth there wasn’t much Saints might have done to prevent the goal. No matter, though, as the team were level a quarter through the action: Gabbiadini pulled away at the far post at a corner, as he was wont to do for all of his game, and was able to knock the ball back for Romeu to tap it in. Chelsea remained on top but the situation heading towards half time was quite satisfactory, only for Saints to be undone by an added time free kick, the ball eventually headed back by Alonso for Cahill to steam in to score with another header. The Blues increased their lead soon after the break and again it was a header – this time by Costa, and after an ‘air shot’ clearance attempt by Gabbiadini, who had shown us that ‘trick’ in the previous game and is really as much use as a chocolate teapot at the back. It’s not unknown for Saints to come back from a two goal deficit on this ground; they did so in Nigel Adkins’ last game in charge. They didn’t do so this time and the game was up on 88 minutes anyway when Costa strolled through to score his second on the night, as well as having that early assist. Saints finished the game with Redmond, Long and Rodriguez all on the pitch, causing Antonio Conte to bring on the venerable Terry as a precaution. The former England skipper wasn’t very helpful as Saints scored the game’s third headed goal deep into added time when the unlikely figure of Bertrand converted a cross by Soares.
LSSC Man of the Match: Oriol Romeu, aided by his first goal of the season.