Chelsea bounced back from back-to-back defeats in real style on the South Coast on Saturday afternoon, dominating from start to finish to boost our quest for a top-four finish with our best-ever win over Southampton.
Four of goals came before half-time. Marcos Alonso began the fun with his first league goal since the opening day of the season and Mason Mount, who grew up supporting Southampton’s big rivals Portsmouth, continued a run he is very much enjoying when he struck our second goal with a fine shot. He has now found the St Mary’s net on all three of his visits here with Chelsea.
Timo Werner then scored the type of goal with which he made his name and Thomas Tuchel’s team were 3-0 up with just over 20 minutes played. Kai Havertz registered his seventh in his last 10 games after a penetrating run from Werner who also hit the woodwork three times in the first half, including immediately before his compatriot’s finish.
Werner and Mount both doubled their tallies for the day early in the second half, each following up after saves by the Saints’ goalkeeper Fraser Forster.
This win, coupled with defeats for Manchester United and Arsenal elsewhere today, means third-place Chelsea are on 62 points with Tottenham in fourth on 57 points and the Gunners fifth a further three points behind, although Spurs have played one game more.
Four changes were made from the home defeat by Real Madrid including both wing-backs. Cesar Azpilicueta was out with Covid and Reece James moved to the bench so Ruben Loftus-Cheek was asked to play right wing-back, a position he had taken on in a couple of games since Christmas, and Marcos Alonso returned on the left. In midfield, Mateo Kovacic replaced Jorginho and Timo Werner came in for Christian Pulisic up front.
What a start!
An early goal was just what the doctor ordered to settle any lingering anxiety following the Brentford and Real Madrid home defeats, and it almost came earlier than it did when with just two minutes on the clock, Werner was unfortunate to see a clean low strike rebound off the far post. With our next attack which followed quickly, Havertz in space blazed over disappointingly.
Only four minutes after hitting the post, Werner already had his second woodwork strike of the game when he stooped to meet Loftus-Cheek’s cross with his head but sent it onto the crossbar.
To say a Chelsea goal was coming was an understatement, and it did arrive with eight minutes played. Loftus-Cheek was involved again, picking out an unmarked Mount in front of target but with back to goal. No problem! The England man cleverly moved the ball on sideways to where an advanced Alonso finished well.
Loftus-Cheek was playing right wing-back today, and he played a part in our second goal too. This time his pass was not perfect but it still found its way to Mount who from over 20 yards out, hammered it into the bottom corner of the Saints’ net.
Werner at last
A great save from Forster prevented Werner from quickly making the score 3-0 but the German all but ended the contest with only a quarter of it played when neither Forster, the post nor the bar could prevent him netting a very good breakaway goal.
When the Saints’ skipper James Ward-Prowse messed up a header, Werner was on his way towards goal with the home side’s defence pursuing in vain. Our no.11 knocked the ball past Forster and from an angle, found the target.
Irrepressible is the way to describe Werner’s first half, and he did fantastically well to leave three Saints defenders trailing in his wake with his skills inside their penalty area for the fourth goal, only to see his shot hit the opposite upright to the one he struck earlier. Havertz was there for the easy tap-in. 4-0.
Just before half-time, Forster prevented the damage being even greater with a low save after Loftus-Cheek’s header from a corner had deflected towards goal off Mohammed Salisu. It did not prevent the home side being booed when the half-time whistle blew. They had been powerless to stop a vibrant Blues.
Havertz was given a rest for the second half, replaced by Christian Pulisic, but there was no let up as the Blues cut straight through the middle of the Saints to make it 5-0 with only three minutes of the second half played. Alonso slipped a pass through for N’Golo Kante whose attempted little chip was saved, but only into the path of Werner for his second goal.
There had been next to nothing for Edou Mendy and the Chelsea defence to do in the first half but our keeper pulled off one smart save from close range in the second, from Che Adams after the Saints had created a crossing chance down our right. They would not properly threaten again.
Goal number six was Mount’s second. Southampton had switched to a back-three during the first half but it made little difference to our ability to find space. Alonso crossed, Forster again did his best in keeping out efforts from Pulisic and Werner, but three interventions was too much to ask and Mount could not miss.
There was still over half-an-hour to go and for the remainder of the game, the Blues were able to keep a grip on it while conserving energy for the Champions League. Marcos Alonso went closest to adding to the six-goal tally with a shot just past the far post.
Timo punishes former boss
With his two goals today, Werner has now scored five goals against Southampton and Ralph Hasenhuttl, his former manager at RB Leipzig. His most recent league goal before today was in our 3-1 home win versus the Saints in October.
With this emphatic victory we equal our club record of seven successive away wins in all competitions originally set in 1988/89, in a Second Division promotion season under Bobby Campbell’s management and equalled early in 2019/20, when Frank Lampard was at the helm. We have a chance to set a new club best in the Bernabeu next week!
The squad flies to Spain on Monday ahead of our attempt to rescue our Champions League quarter-final tie from Real Madrid, who are 3-1 up from the first leg. The match is on Tuesday with an 8pm kick-off (UK time).
Then it is back to England for our FA Cup semi-final next Sunday. Tickets are still available for that match at Wembley
Chelsea (3-5-2): Mendy; Christensen, Thiago Silva (James 63), Rudiger; Loftus-Cheek, Kante (c), Mount (Ziyech 69), Kovacic, Alonso; Havertz (Pulisic h-t), Werner.
Unused subs Kepa, Chalobah, Sarr, Barkley, Jorginho, Saul.
Scorers Alonso 8, Mount 16, 54, Werner 21, 49, Havertz 31
Southampton (4-3-1-2): Forster; Livramento (Smallbone 73), Bednarek, Salisu, Walker-Peters, Ward-Prowse (c), Romeu (Valery 36), S Armstrong, Elyounoussi, A Armstrong (Diallo h-t), Adams.
Unused subs Caballero, Stephens, Perraud, Walcott, Redmond, Tella.
Booked Bednarek 60
Referee Kevin Friend