Champions in full-blown crisis: Five things we learned from Chelsea 1 Southampton 3
By Michael Cantillon
Chelsea seem unable to stop their downward spiral, the team’s defending is horrific and other things we learned from Chelsea 1 Southampton 3.
Chelsea could sink even further
The statistics are alarming. Sixteenth in the table, Chelsea have now lost four of their eight Premier League games and conceded 17 goals. Who would have predicted the runaway champions could slip so far and so quickly? Yet there are no signs of actual improvement, or better times on the horizon. Things could get worse before they get better. Southampton had only won once at Stamford Bridge in the last 20 years before today and had only beaten Chelsea once in their last 12 meetings. Yet even when they fell behind, Chelsea never looked remotely threatening going forward and were a defensive shambles. If anything the defeat could have been worse, with Southampton denied two stonewall penalties: Ramires’ clear trip on Sadio Mane and Branislav Ivanovic’s blatant shirt pull on Virgil Van Dijk. It is now Chelsea’s worst start in 37 years, when they were relegated from the old division one.
Graziano Pelle and Sadio Mane are a dangerous partnership
The two Southampton forwards were outstanding all day, with Pelle displaying his brilliant hold-up play in the face of Gary Cahill and the returning John Terry, and Mane the star of the match, with Chelsea unable to shake him off the ball, nor control his incisive runs and neat touches. Pelle provided the assist for Southampton’s equaliser, expertly chesting the ball right into the path of Steven Davis who made no mistake on the stroke of half-time. Mane then put Southampton ahead after some calamitous Chelsea defending, before the Senegalese international set up Pelle on the break for Southampton’s third, clinching the win and rounding off a magnificent team performance. The two were fantastic.
Terry is not answer to defence horrors
With John Terry recalled the hope was that he would shore Chelsea’s leaky backline. Pelle bullied him and Cahill all game however, with Terry particularly culpable for Southampton’s second, allowing Mane to turn him far too easily after Cahill had slackly lost possession. Cesar Azpilicueta then also wastefully gave possession away directly before Southampton clinched the match with their third. Only Sunderland have now conceded more (18) then Chelsea so far this campaign, with the ineptitude shown at the back by Mourinho’s side simply staggering at times. To put this in perspective, during Mourinho’s first season at Chelsea in 2004-2005, his side conceded 15 goals during the entire 38-game campaign.
Falcao is a shadow of his former self
Given a start due to the continued absence of Diego Costa, the man who was a goal machine for River Plate, Porto, and Atletico Madrid was impotent and invisible. Since rupturing his ACL at Monaco in 2014, Falcao has never looked remotely threatening. Last year his loan to Manchester United was a costly disaster, while he has done little at Chelsea to suggest that he will prove a success. In this match, he was anonymous and never looked a threat to the Southampton goal, while he was also booked for simulation when he jumped into Maarten Stekelenburg. The man on a massive wage no longer looks worthy.
Chelsea’s greatest threat is Willian’s set-pieces
It is indicative of how poor the Blues have been going forward this season that their principal goal threat is Willian’s set-piece abilities. In the game today, he opened the scoring with what only he will know was either a shot or cross; the latter appearing more probable. His free-kick also saved Chelsea from defeat at Newcastle last weekend, while he also struck in the mid-week defeat to Porto. His four goals from direct free-kicks in a single season – we are only in the first week in October – has only ever been beaten for the club by Gianfranco Zola and Didier Drogba in a league campaign before.