Match report: Chelsea 1
The Blues took an early lead in the Saturday tea-time kick-off
thanks to another Willian free-kick but could not build on the
Southampton levelled shortly before the interval through
Steven Davies after what had been a fairly even first half and
then had the better of the second period, going ahead on
the hour and extending the lead on the break not long after.
Sadio Mane and Graziano Pelle were the scorers.
Falcao was not given a penalty with the score 1-1 when the
goalkeeper dived at his feet and made contact, Southampton
having had an appeal of their own turned down earlier in
the game, but Chelsea on the attack could not create the
openings to turn this contest around, instead going down to
our second home defeat of the season.
John Terry was back in the starting line-up for the first time
in the league since the defeat at Everton in mid-September.
Kurt Zouma was the defender to make way and there were
also starts for Oscar and Falcao while Loic Remy, the third
player who had remained working at Cobham this week
while their colleagues took on Porto, was on the bench. This
was Falcao’s first league start for Chelsea.
Willian, on target twice in the past eight days, was preferred
to Pedro on the right flank and Ramires who had been so
influential recently was preferred to Nemanja Matic
alongside Cesc Fabregas in central midfield. Eden Hazard
was back in the starting 11.
The previous outing at Stamford Bridge was the impressive
win over Arsenal. Since then the Blues had hit the road and
travelled overseas for three away games which yielded a
win, a draw and a defeat, so the opening minutes of this
game were going to be keenly observed for early indicators
of what level of performance was likely today.
The referee’s whistle and the offside flag were most
prominent for a while after kick-off. Gary Cahill headed one
free-kick behind for a corner that was easily claimed by
Then Hazard took off towards the Saints area and was
clipped by Oriol Romeu at the expense of the game’s first
The free-kick was wide of the goal but to the left, but that
meant it was sited in what is fast becoming prime Willian
territory. The Brazilian obliged with an even better version
of the strike bent behind the defence to test the keeper at
his far post. Maarten Stekelenburg was found wanting and
the ball cannoned into the net off the upright. There were 10
minutes played and it was just the start we needed.
Davis shanked a shot wide for Southampton when he was
found in space inside our box before the next two Chelsea
attacks which both centred on Oscar. The second was a
worthy shot given the lack of room to manoeuvre the ball
but it was off-target. Hazard too tested the Saints defence.
Midway through the half, Fabregas and Oscar worked the
ball through the smallest of gaps and the latter’s clever
attempt to beat the keeper lacked just a little height. There
were moments of bright football being played.
Ryan Bertrand followed his fellow former Blue Romeu into
the book for a trip on Willian before Sadio Mane twice
claimed fouls for challenges from Ramires, the first in the
box, the second resulting in a booking for the Saints winger
The game was in a fallow period in terms of chances at
either end. Cahill was alert enough to head a ball behind at
the near post when Southampton worked a dangerous free-
kick and Begovic was stretched by a cross that was drifting
towards the target. He also saved from Bertrand who was
played through on an overlapping run as half-time
approached. That was a good opening not taken.
Ramires went into the book for what the referee indicated
was one foul too many and the visitors had been looking the
stronger side for the past 10 minutes. They were rewarded
with their equaliser just before the break. Davis was the
scorer with a very well-struck shot kept low from just outside
the area that gave Begovic no chance. It had been teed up
by Pelle who chested down a long ball while holding off the
A foul on Oscar gave hope of quickly restoring the advantage
but this time Willian drove the ball into the wall.
Both managers decided to alter their central midfields for
the second half – Matic coming on for Ramires with James
Ward-Prowse for Romeu the Saints switch. It was Ronald
Koeman’s substitute who eventually shot wide after the
visitors had a series of attempts blocked in quick succession,
as they restarted on the front foot.
An Oscar cross was whipped in but it was too high for
Falcao. Our no.9 was then involved in one of the game’s big
talking points with 56 minutes played. Chelsea were building
pressure and Fabregas struck one of his side’s best passes of
the game. Falcao stretched to control it and then collided
with the keeper for what looked a penalty to many watching
on. The ref however booked the Chelsea man.
Southampton took the lead just short of the hour. The
danger started when the ball was lost a couple of times
midway inside our half. Mane took possession and turned
past Terry at the same time and although his shot struck
Begovic, it still had enough momentum to make the net.
Terry showed how the sort of free-kick Willian scored with
should be defended with a strong header upfield, but now
the Blues needed to rediscover our teeth in attack quickly.
Pedro had been introduced in place of Willian but it was the
Saints who struck again, this time on the counter-attack after
a Hazard pass in their half did not reach its target. Pelle
produced the emphatic finish.
Remy came on for previous substitute Matic as a greater
threat up front was sought. Terry did well to get his body in
the way of a Tadic shot after the lively Mane battled past
Cahill to cross.
The final 10 minutes began and Stekelenburg made a mess
of claiming a Remy cross but it did not fall kindly for the
closing Hazard. The threat stayed alive and Falcao’s shot
cleared the bar by not much.
Pelle joined the list of players booked for fouls on Hazard
and Falcao lined up to take the free-kick 20 yards out. The
strike was looking good but skimmed off the wall and went
Pedro tried to jink his way through a penalty-area crowd
during added time but we would not have the opportunity to
take aim at the target again.
Chelsea (4-2-3-1): Begovic; Ivanovic, Cahill, Terry (c),
Azpilicueta; Ramires (Matic h-t (Remy 74), Fabregas; Willian
(Pedro 64), Oscar, Hazard; Falcao.
Unused subs Blackman, Baba, Zouma, Loftus-Cheek.
Scorer Willian 10,
Booked Ramires 43, Falcao 57.
Southampton (4-3-3): Stekelenburg; Soares, Fonte (c), Van
Dijk, Bertrand; Romeu (Ward-Prowse h-t), S Davis,
Wanyama; Mane (Yoshida 90+1), Pelle, Tadic (Rodriguez 77).
Unused subs K Davis, Martina, Long, Juanmi.
Scorers Davis 44, Mane 59, Pelle 73.
Booked Romeu 9, Bertrand 25, Mane 33, Ward-Prowse 78,
Referee Bobby Madley
Match report: Chelsea 1