Chelsea Home Lost 1 – 4
Having had a week to think about it, Ralph decided that Valery was the best choice to replace Soares after his warm-up injury at Tottenham, with last week’s replacement, Vestergaard, nowhere to be seen. Opponents, Chelsea, have a more home-grown look this season due to their transfer restrictions, and two English players were behind their taking the lead on 17 minutes, with Hudson-Odoi lobbing a long ball forward which tempted Gunn off his line, only for Abrahams to beat him to the ball and send it even higher; a landing anywhere other than a few feet from the line would have sent it bouncing over, or given Yoshida a chance to clear, an opportunity he nearly took anyway but his acrobatic effort was too late. Somehow Ward-Prowse has been widely blamed for the goal, for losing possession inside the Chelsea half, but more acutely the problem has to be with the way our centre backs deal with such situations, while Gunn’s role doesn’t cover him with glory. Saints had begun brightly with Redmond sending an early effort fizzing over the bar, but front runners Ings and Long weren’t posing the same threat as our opponents who doubled their lead through South East Hampshire boy Mount following good work by Willian. Both goals and most danger was coming down our right side so Valery’s defensive play is in question, but he poses a threat at the other end, and an incisive run set up Ings to close the gap from close range. A single goal deficit at the interval would have given an incentive, but it was lost five minutes before the break when Kanté‘s slap shot took a big deflection into the corner of the net. As three subs had been warming up with the score at 0-2, we expected early changes, but there was no action off the bench until the 73rd minute when Obafemi replaced Long: not a move likely to turn the tide, I would suggest. Boufal is apparently nursing an injury which may explain his belated introduction during the last ten minutes and that was for too late. Not too late to witness a fourth Chelsea goal, though, with their sub, Batshuayi, shooting through Gunn’s legs in a raid that again exposed the Southampton right, a similar move to the one that had had Gunn kicking away from Hudson-Odoi earlier in the half.
LSSC Man of the Match: Oriol Romeu, the only one of our players who performed up to expectations.