Chelsea Away Won 0 – 2
With Long joining Djenepo on the injured list and Ings’ game-time under strict control during the festive fixture pile-up, Saints started the Boxing Day game at Chelsea with one of their least experienced forward lines: Adams and Obafemi. Each could well have been under orders simply to run around and make a nuisance of themselves, but with no clean sheets from the defence since September, any return from this game still looked unlikely. Obafemi, though, had other ideas and a sublime turn after a through ball from Højbjerg gave him the time and space for a speculative shot, helped by Adams distracting defenders with a clever run of his own: what happened next was a surprise to the travelling support, Arrizabalaga in goal and probably Ralph on the touchline, if not Obafemi who looped a 20 yard shot into the top corner. A finger tip save by McCarthy preserved the lead until the interval, when the home side introduced Mount and rearranged their line-up. Their were fears that Mount would make Saints’ fans pay for their earlier taunts involving his deprived upbringing in South East Hampshire, but whatever Chelsea did with their reorganised shape seemed to play into Southampton’s hands, allowing Redmond in particular plenty of opportunities to run at Rūdiger. Tomori just managed to touch a Redmond cross away from Adams and then Redmond himself should have done better with a shot saved by Arrizabalaga. He did get his goal, though, and it was worth waiting for as a long period of possession was only ended by a light touch by Kanté that sent the ball to Redmond who this time finished nicely. By now Ings was on the pitch as the prospect of another three points on the road led Ralph to field his strongest possible team… and they duly obliged with McCarthy contributing well to his first shut out since Fratton Park, but not overly extended as the back four held firm against a side who had long since run out of ideas.
LSSC Man of the Match:Jan Bednarek – his turn after Stephens won out last time round, and the choice was between our centre backs. Apologies to Michael Obafemi!