Chelsea and manager Antonio Conte kept up their fine form in the Premier League with a 2-0 victory at Southampton on Sunday. The Blues now sit one point behind Manchester City, Arsenal and Liverpool for first place in the league standings.
SOUTHAMPTON 0 CHELSEA 2: MATCH REVIEW
Confidence was certainly high for Chelsea, coming off a 4-0 drubbing of Manchester United at Stamford Bridge last weekend. An organised and disciplined Southampton defence was always going to be difficult to break down and Conte knew his side needed to be up to the challenge.
The Italian manager utilised a 3-4-3 formation, similar to his days at Juventus. David Luiz was the key piece of central defence and performed well in front of goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois, clearing out several opportunities from the home side.
Eden Hazard opened the scoring in the sixth minute with a scintillating move up the right flank. A perfect pass from Victor Moses opened up space for the Belgian playmaker. Saints midfielder Steven Davis closed down the effort, but a slick move from Hazard was finished off with a goal just under the reach of Fraser Forster.
Chelsea were content to give Southampton the majority of possession throughout the first half, waiting for their chance to strike on the counter. Southampton unfortunately struggled to make the most of their chances.
A moment of lost concentration from the Saints essentially sealed the three points for Chelsea in the 55th minute. Striker Diego Costa gave the visitors a 2-0 advantage with a brilliant goal from 25 yards out after being given too much space outside the box.
Chelsea will prepare to host Everton next weekend, while Southampton will travel to Hull City.
EARLY STRIKE SETS THE TONE
Hazard’s early goal allowed Chelsea and Conte to stick with a defensive approach that controlled much of the match. The backline and midfield sat deep, allowing the Saints plenty of possession and kept the ball in front of them.
Frustration for the home side was evident, as Southampton were unable to find the breakthrough.
POSSESSION DOES NOT LEAD TO SAINTS SUCCESS
Chelsea’s switch to a three-man backline was effective, even when Southampton were able to mount an attack in the opposing half.
David Luiz, Gary Cahill and Cesar Azpilicueta were able to contain Charlie Austin and Nathan Redmond throughout. Midfielder N’Golo Kante had a fantastic evening covering the defensive midfield and giving the attack license to move forward.
HAZARD’S SPECTACULAR FORM RETURNING IN 2016-17
Eden Hazard’ strike in the first half was his fifth goal of the Premier League campaign thus far, equaling his total from the club’s disappointing term last season.
The talented midfielder is thriving under new manager Antonio Conte and the squad seems poised to have a successful 2016-17 with Hazard back in top form.
CHELSEA: Courtois, Azpilicueta, Luiz, Cahill, Moses (Ivanovic 87′), Kante, Matic, Alonso, Pedro (Willian 78’), Costa (Batshuayi 89′), Hazard
Unused subs: Begovic, Terry, Chalobah, Oscar
SOUTHAMPTON: Forster, Martina, Fonte, van Dijk, Bertrand (McQueen 78’), Romeu, Clasie (Boufal 61’), Davis, Tadic (Hojbjerg 78’), Redmond, Austin
Unused subs: Taylor, Ward-Prowse, Yoshida, Olomola
REFEREE: Mike Jones