London Saints

Chelsea Away

It’s almost certainly because you only notice these things when it’s your own club, but we’ve always observed that teams experiencing a bad trot seem to snap out of it when they come up against Southampton. A good opportunity, then, for Chelsea to put their recent woes behind them in the Saturday evening fixture at Stamford Bridge, and that’s the way things seemed to be going when Willian Da Silva‘s expertise with the dead ball fooled Stekelenburg, who must have been the only person on the ground not sensing the danger as the Brazilian ace stepped up to a free kick some way from goal and out on the touchline. As the ball sailed in to the net, it was beyond expectations to realise that this was as good as it was going to get for the home side, even though it still took Saints a while to get into the game. They were level at the interval thanks to a goal from Davis, who had seemed to have forgotten where the net was. And a good goal it was too, with Pellè having time to chest the ball into the path of the midfielder who let fly from 20 yards. Ward-Prowse had been warming up towards the end of the opening period and he came on for the yellow-carded Romeu for the second half, a move often favoured by manager Koeman (except if it involves Wanyama, who would rarely complete a game otherwise). Whatever was said or done at the break, it certainly worked as Saints were rampant in the next 30 minutes – the pattern was set early on when both Tadić and Mané made their markers look foolish in a move that produced two very presentable scoring opportunities. It was Mané who was causing most problems for the cumbersome pairing of Terry and Cahill, and after being denied a couple of times by Begović, he eventually forced the ball under the keeper after being set up by Pellè. Saints went further ahead on 72 minutes when Mané returned the complement and gave Pellè an opportunity which he took with a superb angled shot. José Mourinho then substituted one of his subs in a desperate move to save the game, but Saints were in no mood to concede, although had they continued with their exciting forward play, who knows how many they could have got? No Chelsea defeat would be complete without moan from their manager about the well known refereeing conspiracy against his club, but his view (from low down and 50 yards away) of a penalty shout with the score at 1-1 doesn’t match that provided by the TV cameras. Instead, TV shows that Saints had had better claims of their own, especially for a shirt-tug on Van Dijk that went unpunished. Never mind, though – the way the team played early in the second half made up for that and will long live in the memory.

LSSC Man of the Match: Sadio Mané, unplayable for central defenders not blessed with a lot of pace.

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