Five games into the Premier League season and it has not been the greatest of starts for Chelsea as they were defeated for the second time. The Blues were beaten 2-1 by Southampton at St Mary’s as they were outplayed and outfought.
The jury is still out on where Chelsea are this year in comparison to their top six rivals. They have had the most unorganised transfer window of this year’s hopefuls and most of their performances this term haven’t been particularly promising.
We saw an excellent display from Chelsea against Tottenham earlier this month, but they were still held to a draw. Then they were outplayed and outfought by Leeds at Elland Road a week later as they were comfortably beaten by Leeds United. A victory with 10 men against Leicester then followed which just shows that they are already finding it difficult to get into a rhythm and deliver consistent results and performances. But due to the money invested in this team so far this window, these results will deserve criticism.
Against Southampton, Thomas Tuchel deployed a back four, something which we haven’t seen Chelsea use for some time. This was due to the club awaiting the arrival of Wesley Fofana from Leicester, while Reece James was unavailable for the game. The defensive partnership of Thiago Silva and Kalidou Koulibaly were given plenty of problems by Che Adams, who was seemingly winning every header he challenged for. It gave the sense that both were out of their comfort zone.
Adams’ excellent centre-forward play was showing Chelsea what they are missing. While Tuchel tries to have his side play through the lines, sometimes it helps just to have that easy outball which Adams gave the Saints, helping his team move up the pitch. For Chelsea, when they got into the final third, they largely lacked the cutting edge to make use of their good positions, while Southampton defended resolutely.
The lack of Chelsea’s familiarity with the system made it easy for Southampton to force players to pass the ball backwards forcing Tuchel to revert to his normal system. Ben Chilwell and Christian Pulisic came on to play as wing-backs, but the change had no impact on proceedings as Southampton continued to look the more dangerous side.
In games where Chelsea aren’t in complete control of the ball, games are passing by their midfielders. Jorginho failed to have an impact and he was subsequently substituted as Ralph Hasenhuttl’s game plan was executed to perfection to take the Italian out of the game.
The first chance of the game fell to the hosts. After some excellent hold-up play by Adams, the forward teed up Mohamed Elyounoussi whose low shot was gathered by Edouard Mendy. Raheem Sterling had a good opportunity to open the scoring but his effort was collected by Gavin Bazunu. Hakim Ziyech was up next to have a shot but he couldn’t get a clean connection as he was left unmarked at the edge of the box.
Sterling put the Blues ahead at the midway point of the half after he coolly placed his effort into the bottom-left corner, following some nice work by Mason Mount. As the Saints started to look a bit open at the back, they delivered a quick response. New signing Romeo Lavia scored a stunning debut goal from the edge of the box following a corner.
The hosts completed the turnaround just before the break. Adam Armstrong was perfectly placed in the box for a pull back and the striker fired his side in front. Minutes after the restart, Southampton almost doubled their lead through Romain Perraud, but his diving header was blocked brilliantly by Marc Cucurella. It was Silva who was later called in for some last-ditch defending as he cleared Mohammed Salisu’s header off the line.
This slow start to the season will be concerning to Tuchel and the supporters and with two days left in the transfer window we could be about to witness some late night shopping in west London.