Chelsea Home Drew 1 – 1
No Walker-Peters to face Chelsea, and Armstrong has developed a worrying injury-after-every-90-minutes habit as well, but Salisu did enough last time out to retain his place in… well, what was it? A back four with Bednarek at right back? A back three maybe? Or even a back five, with Djenepo expected to contribute as well? The visitors didn’t have an obvious left winger, but Marco Alonso frequently found no-one at home in the Southampton number two position and threatened to profit – in fact he should have given his side an early lead. That shot went wide, and the match stats show that Chelsea only managed to get away three efforts on target, which presumably includes their set piece goal – a meagre return from 71% possession. Having so little of the ball would have caused discontent at a populated St. Mary’s, but we do like to play that way sometimes, and the team did manage a first half strike from the 29% of the time when Saints had the ball. This was a second Saints goal from Minamino, created by a through ball from Redmond, but memorable for its stylish finish. Being a goal to the good at the break was no guarantee of ending a hideous losing streak, of course, but whilst remaining much on the back foot after the turnaround, for the second game running, the team looked comfortable enough until, all of a sudden, they conceded a penalty. Little controversy about this one, the result of a forward’s tackle by Ings on Mount, who scored the kick himself. Despite the lack of spectators, there must have been a sense of déjà vu around the stadium, but this season’s Chelsea squad lacks the spark other vintages have had and the closest the game came to a deciding goal came when Vestergaard guided a header onto the bar. Things might have been very different had James shown more composure when presented with the best chance from open play but otherwise McCarthy was only truly tested by a couple of efforts, one in each half, that VAR might very well have ruled irrelevant anyway. Minamino was withdrawn, which is no surprise as he’s a little lightweight for Ralph-ball, but taking off Ings and then Redmond deep into injury time suggested that the manager was as relieved with the point as the rest of us; his facial expression was even more of a giveaway than the substitutions.
LSSC Man of the Match: Mohammed Salisu. I don’t listen to the live TV commentaries any more, but it looked as though BT chose him as well – fair enough, although Vestergaard would also have been a good choice.
The end of a run of BT games, and the end of my month’s subscription as well. A clutch of Sky games away from home now – back, maybe, after they’re all over.