London Saints

Chelsea Away Carabao EFL Cup 4th Round Drew 1 – 1 Lost 4 – 3 on Penalties

When a manager of one of the elite clubs starts on about a crowded fixture list just days before a League Cup tie, you know what’s coming. Thus with Chelsea‘s Thomas Tuchel: his XI to face Southampton was much changed from their Premier League starters, but because of the depth of his squad, most (but not all) names were still familiar. Saints were without Ward-Prowse, Elyounoussi and Broja for a variety of reasons and Ralph used the opportunity to experiment as well: a back three of Salisu, Lyanco Vojnovic and Valery behind wing backs Walker-Peters and Djnepo. Along with Forster and midfielders Diallo and stand-in skipper Stuart Armstrong they all did OK, Lyanco clearly happier without Sheffield United’s McBurney making his evening uncomfortable – it’s more than can be said of the attacking players Tella, Adams and Adam Armstrong, none of whom quite looked good enough for this level. A commendable enough opening half was coming to an end when the hosts won a corner and Havertz rose to head them into the lead; it remained 1-0 for just a matter of minutes actual playing time as Walker-Peters made a determined run into the penalty area and when his shot somehow went through Kepa Arrizabalaga, Adams was left with a simple tap in on 47 mins. It seems that you can make five substitutions in the Carabao Cup so Ralph used his full allocation, first bringing on Long, Walcott, Romeu and Smallbone in a ten minute period, and almost as soon as he appeared, Smallbone had a golden opportunity to put his team in front but his header allowed Kepa to save. In fact both keepers were performing well to prevent further goals in an entertaining second 45 which, due to all the changes, was nevertheless becoming unstructured… so it’s difficult to say whether the introduction of Livramento for the closing stages was to allow him to operate in a midfield role as many think he should. Right at the end Lyanco and Salisu forced decent saves from successive corners before the tie headed to penalties, as half of the round 4 matches did. Alan Armstrong was successful but Walcott was denied by a mixture of Kepa and post before Smallbone sent his effort high over the bar. In between, Forster kept out Mount – a young man who originates from the wrong part of Hampshire, so that was nice; unfortunately it wasn’t to be enough to make up for our two failures.

 LSSC Man of the Match: Fraser Forster. Not his fault that our outfield players couldn’t shoot straighter in the penalty competition.

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