Chelsea held by Southampton as The Saints end their winless rot on the South Coast.
On arrival, both teams carried what was almost polar opposite forms into the game, with Southampton losing their last 6 league games, whilst the visitors saw victory in their previous 4.
Thomas Tuchel made 4 alterations to his Chelsea line-up as Kepa Arrizabalaga, Andreas Christensen, Jorginho and Callum Hudson-Odoi were all dropped to the bench. The Saints alternatively made two changes, seeing both Kyle Walker-Peters and Stuart Armstrong moved into the starting 11.
Southampton saw the fixture as an opportunity to make amends to their poor league form, where they have remained winless since their triumphant victory over Liverpool in early January. The previous result saw the sides locked into a 3-3 draw at Stamford Bridge, making the fixture at St. Mary’s highly anticipated.
The Blues begun the match brightly, and came close to scoring in the opening 5 minutes through defender Marcos Alosno.
The Chelsea move stemmed from Mason Mount, who found full-back Reece James in acres of space out on the wing. The defender picked a great pass to find Alosno, but the Spaniard could only do as much as diverting his effort wide.
The opening 25 minutes seemed one way traffic, with Thomas Tuchel’s side dictating the flow at St. Mary’s. Although The Saints were struggling to get out of their own half, they were defending excellently – shutting down every Chelsea attack with ease.
Despite the visitor’s possession, the deadlock was broken on the 33rd minute, as Takumi Minamino gave Southampton a surprise lead against the run of play.
The Japanese international was the coolest man in the stadium, as he made a crafty run in between the Chelsea defenders, before calmly slotting the ball past shot stopper Édouard Mendy.
Although Chelsea did later have a chance through the arial presence of Kurt Zouma, they went into the break trailing. Thomas Tuchel was an animated figure on the touchline throughout the first half, so we can only imagine what he was like during the interval.
Whatever the German said to his side seemed to have worked, as Chelsea begun the second half all guns blazing. The presence of Timo Werner was felt by the Southampton defence, as he was creating and causing problems for Ralph Hasenhüttl’s back line.
Despite their best attempts to defend their lead in the first half, The Saints broke down early in the second half as Danny Ings brought down Mason Mount in the penalty area – with Anthony Taylor consequently pointing to the spot.
With Jorginho absent, the duty was fulfilled by Mason Mount – who coolly converted the penalty. Chelsea were back on level terms.
From this point onwards, the game was open for both teams and could have easily gone either way. Chelsea was once again struggling to create chances, whilst Southampton were eager to counter the visitor’s attacks.
On the 70th minute, The Saints came close, as Jannik Vestergaard rattled the crossbar following a powerful header.
The defender was on the end of a deflected cross by Nathan Redmond, and was inches away from reigniting Southampton’s lead. The Danish giant converted the against Chelsea earlier on in the season, and was unlucky to deny history from repeating itself.
The game later saw chances for Reece James and Mason Mount, but neither could capitalise – as it finished a 1-1 draw on Saturday afternoon in Southampton.
After the whistle:
The draw marked an end to Southampton’s losing spell in the Premier League. The run featured a 9-0 defeat to Manchester United, and will be something that they hope to keep in the past. The Saints will look to go one better on Tuesday evening, as they travel north to take on Leeds at Elland Road.
Alternatively, it was far from Chelsea’s best display this season as they struggled to create chances and break down a well-disciplined Southampton side. On Tuesday evening Tuchel will face his biggest challenge yet at Chelsea, as The Blues take on Atlético Madrid in the first leg of their Champions League tie.
Southampton 1-1 Chelsea.
- Minamino (33’).
- Mount (54’).
BBC Sport player of the match:
Jannik Vestergaard (Southampton).
Southampton: McCarthy; Bednarek, Vestergaard, Salisu, Bertrand; Djenepo, Ward-Prowse, Romeu, Minamino (76’); Redmond (94’), Ings (85’).
- Subs: Tella (76’), Adams (85’), N’Lundulu (94’).
Chelsea: Mendy; Azpilicueta ©, Zouma, Rüdiger; James, Kanté, Kovačić (76’), Alonso; Mount, Werner, Abraham (45’).
- Subs: Hudson-Odoi (45’, 76’), Jorginho (76’), Ziyech (76’).
Southampton (29%) vs Chelsea (71%).
Southampton (4) vs Chelsea (9).
Shots on target:
Southampton (1) vs Chelsea (3).
Southampton (3) vs Chelsea (6).
Southampton (10) vs Chelsea (10).
- (statistics via BBC Sport).
- (video via Sky Football).