Southampton completed a stunning first-half turnaround to inflict Chelsea’s second defeat of the season with a deserved 2-1 victory.
Thomas Tuchel’s side are now five points behind leaders Arsenal having taken only seven points from their first five matches despite their evening on the south coast starting perfectly when Raheem Sterling netted his third goal of the season from close range.
But brave Southampton fought back through talented teenager Romeo Lavia, who blasted home from the edge of the area to lift a subdued St Mary’s.
Saints never looked back from there with Adam Armstrong firing home the winner in first-half added time to leave Ralph Hasenhuttl’s side above the Blues.
Southampton: Bazuna (7), Walker-Peters (7), Bella-Kotchap (8), Salisu (7), Perraud (8), Lavia (8), Ward-Prowse (7), Diallo (7), Elyounoussi (7), A.Armstrong (8), Adams (7).
Subs: Lyanco (n/a), Aribo (6), Djenepo (6).
Chelsea: Mendy (6), Loftus-Cheek (6), Azpilicueta (5), Silva (5), Koulibaly (5), Cucurella (5), Jorginho (6), Mount (6), Ziyech (6), Havertz (6), Sterling (7).
Subs: Kepa, Kovacic (6), Pulisic (5), Broja (6), Chilwell (6).
Man of the match: Armel Bella-Kotchap (Southampton)
How super Saints marched on
Chelsea have delivered a mixed bag of performances so far this season and it was evident in the first-half alone. For 20 minutes they were sharp, resilient and deservedly went ahead through Sterling as he swivelled to put home Mason Mount’s pull-back.
Image: Raheem Sterling celebrates after giving Chelsea the lead against Southampton
- Southampton made two changes to the team narrowly beaten by Manchester United at the weekend. Moussa Djenepo dropped to the bench with Romain Perraud coming in for him, while Ibrahima Diallo replaced Joe Aribo.
- Reece James missed out through illness as Hakim Ziyech made his first start of the season. Cesar Azpilicueta also returned along with Kalidou Koulibaly. Conor Gallagher was serving his one-game suspension while Trevoh Chalobah was left out with a minor knee injury.
Southampton needed a spark and impressive 18-year-old midfielder Lavia delivered it. James Ward-Prowse’s corner was poorly cleared by Cesar Azpilicueta to the edge of the box where the Belgian took a touch before hammering a piledriver into the corner which flashed past Edouard Mendy.
Image: Romeo Lavia celebrates his equaliser against Chelsea
Saints were on top from then on, capitalising on their pressure in added time when Romain Perraud smartly picked out Armstrong in the box, who controlled sharply before firing into the corner via a slight deflection off the left leg of Kalidou Koulibaly.
Chelsea were angered by Che Adams fouling Jorginho on the half-time whistle and flicking the ball into his face yet couldn’t turn it into momentum after the break.
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Cesar Azpilicueta went in for the handshake, but the Southampton mascot had other ideas!
Instead, Southampton were twice denied by brilliant goalline clearances. The first saw Mohamed Elyounoussi’s header hit the shoulder of Marc Cucurella before Thiago Silva flicked Mohammed Salisu’s effort away. The only downer on the home side’s evening was when Lavia hobbled off injured after 60 minutes.
Southampton got better and better while Chelsea toiled, unable to gather any momentum, clearly missing the raiding Reece James, and slipping to another worrying defeat.
Tuchel: We are not tough enough
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Thomas Tuchel says ‘as a team we are not strong enough’ after Chelsea’s 2-1 defeat to Southampton and refuses to answer questions on new strikers.
Chelsea head coach Thomas Tuchel: “We are not tough enough to win these matches away. It was the same story like in Leeds, there we thought the problem was we didn’t score in the first 25 minutes, and then they pushed us off-balance in two minutes with two goals and we could not find any answers.
“Today we scored so everything was okay but one set piece again, one sloppy defending again, we were off-balance and we did not react to it. We were lucky not to concede a third goal at the beginning of the second half. We were not tough enough as a team to react or push it over the line for us.
“Soft defending. What stops that is pure mentality, stop it with defending mentality. There is no superiority for the opponent, there is no need to give shots away, just toughen up as a team and show a different mentality.
“I don’t like to talk about it normally because you cannot prove it with data or tactical position but it is like this. Both goals are cheap, soft goals and should not happen if you expect to win a match in the evening at an away stadium.”
Hasenhuttl: I’m proud of performance
Southampton boss Ralph Hasenhuttl: “On Saturday we spoke about how good we were and didn’t get points, and today we played the same and the only difference was we scored twice.
“To turn things around like this against Chelsea doesn’t happen very often but I’m even more proud of putting such a performance on the pitch after an intense game on Saturday.
“I think it was fantastic to watch and the atmosphere in the ground was sensational, it carried us over the last 15 minutes when we were sometimes under pressure.
“Overall, everything is very positive, the only disappointment is the injury to Romeo.”
Analysis: Tuchel under pressure as Chelsea stutter
Chelsea’s season is going in the other direction right now. They were seconds away from following up an opening weekend win over Everton with a deserved victory against Tottenham but Harry Kane’s late goal has proved the prelude to a dramatic shift in mood.
After being well beaten at Leeds, Thomas Tuchel’s side have lost their next away game too with the players facing accusations of being weak by their own manager. “Just toughen up as a team and show a different mentality,” he said of the defeat at St Mary’s.
Easier said than done, it seems. For much of Tuchel’s time at Chelsea, his team looked solid but no more. No clean sheet in four tells only part of the tale. They look so open right now. The switch to a back four does not seem to suit them and the injuries are mounting.
That is a short-term issue and the impending arrival of Wesley Fofana should help too. But with the attack little better – only Raheem Sterling has found the net in the last three games – and a gap to their rivals already opening up, Tuchel is under some pressure now.
Analysis: Southampton signings justifying strategy
Image: Lavia equalised for Southampton with a fierce strike
Twenty minutes to go in Southampton’s first home game of the season and they were two goals down to Leeds United having also lost 4-1 at Tottenham on the opening weekend. Many felt that Ralph Hasenhuttl was a man on the brink at that point.
But not only did Saints salvage a point that day but they have gone on to take six points from nine in three games against last season’s top eight. Their come-from-behind 2-1 win against Chelsea at St Mary’s was the most impressive performance yet.
What will satisfy supporters most is that some of the new signings have settled so quickly and look like fantastic acquisitions already. Romeo Lavia went off injured on Tuesday but only after scoring a stunning equaliser to underline his fine start at the club.
Image: Adam Armstrong fires Southampton ahead against Chelsea
If there is anyone who has outshone the 18-year-old Lavia, it is Armel Bella-Kotchap. He is a 20-year-old centre-back signed from Bochum and looks to have serious potential. The pair cost less than £20m in the summer and it is easy to see that value rising and rising.
Southampton’s strategy is focused on developing younger talent but the fear was that they might be courting relegation in doing so. After that alarming start, any concerns are receding. Hasenhuttl has a team packed with talent. It is fun again at St Mary’s.
Fantasy Premier League stats
FPL stats: Southampton vs Chelsea
|Goals||Lavia, A. Armstrong, Sterling|
|Bonus points||A. Armstrong (3pts), Perraud (2pts), Sterling (1pt)|
Play Fantasy Premier League and see more stats here
Opta stats – Saints end Chelsea hoodoo
- Southampton have gained their first Premier League home win against Chelsea since March 2013 (also 2-1), ending a run of nine such games without a victory against the Blues.
- Chelsea have lost consecutive Premier League away games for the first time under Thomas Tuchel, with the German last losing two in a row on the road in a league game in August 2019, with PSG.
- Chelsea have lost at least two of their first five games to a Premier League season (W2 D1 L2) for just the second time this century, having lost three of their opening five in 2015-16 (W1 D1) – a campaign in which they finished in 10th place.
- Since his Premier League debut in March 2012, Raheem Sterling has been directly involved in 169 goals (112 goals, 57 assists), only three players have been involved in more in that time (Harry Kane – 230, Sergio Aguero – 209 and Jamie Vardy – 175).
Southampton travel to Wolves as their fixtures become more favourable with Brentford, Aston Villa and Everton to follow.
Chelsea host West Ham in a Premier League London derby on Saturday at 3pm.
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