Chelsea fell to defeat at St Mary’s as they were beaten 2-1 by Southampton. Thomas Tuchel appeared to get his tactics improper from the beginning along with his team appearing completely unsuited to fiddling with a four-at-the-back system. The Blues did open the scoring through Raheem Sterling but were quickly pegged back by Romeo Lavia and Adam Armstrong to see the three points remain on the South-Coast.
Here Express Sport takes a take a look at five things we learned from the sport.
Chelsea are usually not suited to fiddling with a back 4
The Blues were poor in the course of the first 65 minutes of the match where they stuck rigidly to a four-at-the-back formation. The set-up lacked balance with none of Chelsea’s 4 attacking talents, Raheem Sterling, Kai Havertz, Mason Mount and Hakim Ziyech offering any form of width.
Tuchel was put in a difficult position after Reece James was ruled out with injury but his squad doesn’t look to have the players to start out with a back 4 on account of a scarcity of out and out wingers. An issue that has been worsened by Callum Hudson-Odoi’s loan move to Bayer Leverkusen.
While the team still looked poor after a triple change to alter formation and return to their favoured formation, there was an improvement on how they performed initially.
Southampton’s transfer business has been exemplary
Two of the most effective players on the park for the house side were summer signings Romeo Lavia and Armel Bella-Kotchap. Each players were signed for relatively low fees with Lavia arriving in an £11million deal from Manchester City and Bella-Kotchap costing £9m from Bundesliga side VFL Bochum.
The midfielder got his side back into the sport by smashing home the equaliser from the sting of the box within the twenty eighth minute. The 18-year-old was a continuing thorn within the side of Chelsea’s central pairing of Jorginho and Ruben Loftus Cheek before being forced off with injury early within the second half.
Bella-Kotchap was a relaxed and composed force on the centre of the Southampton defence, typified by his magnificent tackle on Sterling early doors when the Englishman looked set to attain. Each players could quite easily fetch the Saints 4 times the fee they were bought for within the years to return.
Mendy short on form and confidence
Chelsea’s goalkeeper has been so reliable since he joined the club from Rennes in 2020 but has been somewhat out of shape in recent weeks. His mistake for the primary goal within the 3-0 defeat at Leeds has been well documented, but he once more struggled to achieve his usual levels of performance against Southampton.
The Senegal international seemed barely hesitant to gather the from crosses and thru balls despite there being little pressure on him. He will even feel he must have done higher with Lavia’s equaliser after he got a robust hand to the ball which only served to deflect it into his own net.
Southampton will cause teams constant issues on the counter
For as much as Chelsea were poor, Southampton were excellent. They appear particularly dangerous on the counter-attack with Che Adams, Adam Armstrong and Mohamed Elyounoussi an exciting, pacey attacking trio. The Scottish striker is on a very wealthy run of form and was central to the team’s counter attacking efforts, holding up the ball fantastically to usher in his fellow team mates.
Moreover, Armstrong is finally starting to search out his feet following his move from Blackburn last summer. The Saints’ No 9 appears to essentially suit playing of the left, allowing him to interrupt onto the implausible service provided by James Ward-Prowse.
Broja must start more often
Havertz had one other disappointing game in front of goal, fluffing a header over the bar in what was his only real likelihood of the sport. He was replaced by Broja within the sixty fifth minute and the striker immediately looked like an improvement on his return to St Mary’s.
The Albanian gave the Southampton defence something extra to take into consideration and was a nuisance for the centre-halfs to take care of. He forced a great save from Southampton keeper Bazunu which is greater than the German can claim to have done.