Chelsea Away Lost 3 – 1
No doubt Ralph had an idea of what worked at Manchester City when sending out an adventurous looking team, including Tella and Walcott, at Chelsea, but other than a headed opportunity for Walcott, the home team were on top for most of the opening half. They took the lead within the first ten minutes when a corner kick somehow managed to find its way to Chalobah who headed home from close range. Although they were more troubled by the pace of Chelsea’s break-outs compared with City’s style, making things difficult for such opponents is what Saints do best and although Lukaku had the ball in the net after a determined run from Rűdiger, he was offside. Then on 44 minutes, the home side seemed to have scored again, Werner heading in after some difficult defensive moments; VAR came to the rescue this time, somehow finding a foul on Walker-Peters early in the build up, rather than an illegal headed challenge that we thought they were looking for. It did look as though more of a holding approach was called for and Walcott was replaced by Diallo at the break, giving Saints more of a sight of the ball. Much more than that as, just past the hour, they were level thanks to an ill-judged tackle on Livramento by Chilwell and a nerve-less penalty from Ward-Prowse. When McCarthy saved brilliantly from Werner, maybe the football gods were smiling on Saints… no, it was just part of a sick joke as VAR caused referee Atkinson to look again at a foul challenge on sub. Jorghino by Ward-Prowse and decide it was serious foul play deserving a sending off. A tough ask to see the game out from here, and another substitute, Barklay, decided the game in Chelsea’s favour on 83 minutes with a superb pass out to Azpilicueta which was matched by a first-time cross and an equally sharp finish by Werner. On came Elyounoussi, who was unlucky to have been omitted, but the ball never really got near the Shed and indeed it just about managed to get in the goal again at the other end after two efforts had rebounded off the post and McCarthy could only claw out Chilwell‘s follow up from inches over the line. Not too much to criticise from Saints, certainly not in terms of effort through torrential rain, but being beaten by the better side doesn’t do the league position any good.
LSSC Man of the Match: Mohammed Salisu, after admittedly limited consultation. He and Bednarek must have been doing something right to keep Lukaku so quiet.