Chelsea stumbled to a 1-0 defeat against bottom of the league Southampton on a difficult day at Stamford Bridge.
A James Ward-Prowse free kick in first half injury time was enough to seal the win for a manager less Southampton at Stamford Bridge, leaving Chelsea without a win in their last four league games.
Graham Potter made six changes to his Chelsea team after defeat to Dortmund in midweek, and his new look side nearly got off to the worst possible start at Stamford Bridge. A Benoit Badiashile error allowed Kamaldeen Sulemana in behind, forcing Kepa Arrizabalaga into a sharp stop, with the rebound from James Ward-Prowse cleared off the line by Kalidou Koulibaly. Southampton stayed on the front foot and created another chance for Paul Onuachu, which he headed over the bar.
Chelsea grew into the contest and had a couple of efforts on goal courtesy of Noni Madueke and David Datro Fofana. However, the first half was a generally poor contest, full of stoppages and niggly fouls and low on quality.
Due to the many stoppages during the first half, there was enough time added on for one of the sides to snatch the lead, which Southampton duly managed thanks to their talismanic captain Ward-Prowse. Cesar Azpilicueta committed a foul near the edge of his box, and with the quality Ward-Prowse possesses from set pieces, it felt rather inevitable when he curled a fantastic effort over the wall and beyond Kepa to send his side in front just before the break.
Chelsea made a few changes at half time and came out with a bit more impetus as they searched for an early equaliser. Raheem Sterling created a good opening for Mason Mount who missed his header, whilst Cesar Azpilicueta threatened too as Chelsea began to push.
Raheem Sterling had two golden opportunities to level up proceedings, however both times he was thwarted by fantastic blocks from Ainsley Maitland-Niles. The first came from some tidy build up play with Kai Havertz, with Havertz slotting the ball across goal for Sterling only to see his effort cleared. The second also came from a Kai Havertz cross with Sterling’s looping header seemingly goal bound before Maitland Niles somehow kept it out, with Graham Potter surely wondering what his side has to do to score a goal.
There was a long injury delay after Cesar Azpilicueta was badly hurt in a collision with Seykou Mara which required a lot of attention, and caused some distress for both sets of players.
Chelsea tried to regain their momentum after the long pause and pushed for an equaliser deep into added time. Mykhailo Mudryk came closest right at the death, however his volleyed effort fell wide of the post to condemn Chelsea to a second successive defeat.
Here is how Absolute Chelsea rated the players’ performance in the capital on Saturday afternoon.
Kepa Arrizabalaga – 5/10
Kepa started well by making an important save from Sulemana stop the Saints taking an early lead. However, he was sloppy with the ball, and played his part in some of the nervy moments Chelsea created for themselves at the back. Kepa arguably could have done better with Ward-Prowse’s free kick as it was at a saveable height for the keeper, yet Ward-Prowse strikes the ball with such quality it would be harsh to criticise him too much.
Cesar Azpilicueta- 6/10
Azpilicueta gave away the free-kick for Ward Prowse’s opener, which almost feels like conceding a penalty such is Ward Prowse’s prowess. Azpilicueta worked hard and helped create a few openings for his side, although you feel if Reece James had found himself in similar positions he may have created more. Azpilicueta took a horrible knock during the second half, and was stretchered off. We pray that he is ok.
Kalidou Koulibaly – 5/10 (45)
Koulibaly started the game well, using his experience to make an important clearance to stop Ward Prowse’s goalbound effort early on. However, a rash challenge a few minutes later earned him an early booking and he was generally poor after this. Koulibaly was unable to offer the assured presence Thiago Silva has for Badiashille in recent weeks, and was subbed off at the break to minimise the chance of a second yellow.
Benoit Badiashile – 5/10
Badiashile did not look as assured as he has in his previous appearances, likely caused by the absence of his experienced partner Thiago Silva. Badiashile was at fault for Southampton’s early chances when he let Sulemana past him too easily, and he never fully regained his composure. Badiashile was not assured on the ball as he has been in previous weeks, however he improved in the second half as Chelsea were on the front foot more often.
Ben Chilwell – 5/10 (84)
A solid performance from Chilwell who is making his first Premier League start of the year. Generally handled Southamptons attacks well down his side, but didn’t contribute the same levels of attacking impetus fans have become accustomed too when he is fully firing. Chilwell looks a more solid option than Cucurella at present.
Mateo Kovacic – 5/10
A solid display from Mateo Kovacic, another player making a return from his injury. Kovacic is the latest player to try their hand as Enzo Fernandez’ midfield partner and maybe didn’t benefit from a generally poor display from his team. However Kovacic was his usual busy self, but did not control proceedings in the middle of the park in the way he would have liked.
Enzo Fernandez – 5/10
Enzo Fernandez was another player who was generally solid without influencing proceedings too much. Enzo threw himself into challenges and tried his best to dictate the blues tempo but struggled to build any momentum in the contest. Enzo was culpable of a few sloppy passes as were many of his team mates who struggled to deal with Southampton’s pressing.
Noni Madueke – 6/10 (64)
Noni Madueke was one of Chelsea’s better players in a poor first half. Madueke’s pace and power caused Romain Perraud some serious problems down Chelsea’s right, and he had one of his sides better efforts on goal well stopped by Gavin Bazunu. Madueke has quality on the ball when he is able to pick up and turn, Chelsea need to find him in promising positions more regularly.
Joao Felix – 5/10
Joao Felix’s most quiet game in a Chelsea shirt. The loanee struggled to get into the game and when he did manage to get the ball, he lacked the quality many have come to expect from him. Felix was generally poor from set pieces and struggled to find any rhythm in a side that is arguably over reliant on his form already.
Mason Mount – 5/10 (64)
Mason Mount had been dropped from the starting line-up for Chelsea’s last two games due to his poor form, and he struggled again today. Mount struggled to get into the match and produce any moments of his quality his side was sorely lacking. The one half chance he was provided with by Sterling he headed over. Not his day.
David Datro Fofana – 6/10 (45)
A first start for Datro Fofana in Chelsea blue, who played well despite being substituted at the break. Datro Fofana was one of Chelsea’s brighter players in the first period, he battled well and showed flashes of his promise with a few promising runs, neat touches and snapshots. Datro Fofana is clearly still raw in some aspects of his game, and was sacrificed for the more experienced Raheem Sterling as Chelsea tried to get back into the game.
Raheem Sterling – 6.5/10 (45)
Chelsea’s brightest spark after coming off the bench. Created a few chances for others, and should have had one or two goals himself had it not been for Maitland – Niles. After a long injury layoff Sterling showed no rustiness, but still some of the profligacy which has plagued this Chelsea side for a long time. His display showed how much this Chelsea side has missed his quality in recent weeks.
Wesley Fofana – 6/10 (45)
A first appearance in a very long time for Wesley Fofana, after his lengthy injury layoff. Generally acquitted himself well next to Badiashile considering his rustiness. Fofana generally handled Southampton’s counter attacks well as he looks to build his form in the coming weeks.
Kai Havertz – 6/10 (64)
Havertz was involved in creating a few openings for fellow substitute Sterling, and on another day, could have bagged himself two assists and been credited with helping turn the game around for Chelsea. However this did not happen, and despite having a positive impact on the game, Havertz was not able to influence it enough to change the scoreline.
Mykhailo Mudryk – 5/10 (64)
The quietest of Chelsea’s substitutes, Mudryk had a few chances in injury time, including one right at the death, however he was unable to provide the quality needed to help Chelsea equalise.
Conor Gallagher – N/A (84)
Trevoh Chalobah – N/A (84)