Football is like life. There are times when things just happen – just like that. You might want to investigate and identify the cause and all that but certain things just happen. This was such. Very hard to look for a reason why we couldn’t win. We were 2-0 by half time at home. Should have been a cakewalk but not to be. This was by no means a bad performance from Chelsea to warrant a draw. It was simply a bad night.
The team selection was spot on. Ba started ahead of Torres. For all the ones who thought, Rafa will have a soft corner for Torres or Roman wants his managers to start Torres, there was the answer. Ba is clearly our first choice striker. So lets put all the myths around pressure around starting Torres aside.
Both Chelsea goals were very good goals. Demba Ba’s goal was clearly an attempt that only a hungry and confident striker would go for. We have wasted a million crosses like that before. Demba Ba made a goal out of that cross. The Hazard shot was brilliant too. Having just scored a goal from outside the box only in the earlier game, he clearly had the inclination to shoot from there. What a finish that was.
I can’t really see any mistakes per se in the goals conceded. Both the goals scored by Southampton were quality goals. First goal was an excellent header by Lambert. Bad defending? If you watch the replay of any goal, you might say the defender could have done this or that. It was a brilliant header that beat Petr Cech who couldn’t even make an attempt to stop that. That says something.
Their second goal was also quality. Amazing run by young Luke Shaw who left even a pacy Azpilicueta for dead. And that finish was really special. You can’t complain against goals like that. Only the day before Luke Shaw was tweeting that he’s a big Chelsea fan and he stadium that he loves to play is Stamford Bridge. He’s young, he’s promising, he’s a Chelsea fan and it’s January.
I was disappointed with Chelsea’s response to Southampton’s second goal. We had about 20 mins (including stoppage time) at Stamford Bridge to conjure up a goal. That’s when Southampton sat back deeper and pretty much told us ‘show me what you got’. And we had very little to show. The last 20 mins must have been made hell for Southampton. Our players with the support from the home fans must rattled them so much that they should have regretted scoring their equaliser so early as the 75th min. The urgency was there but the intensity simply wasn’t there.
Before this game, Chelsea had won 5 out of the last 6 premier league games. That’s 15 out of possible 18 points. Only Man Utd with 16 points were better than us in that period. In short, it’s been an amazing run in the premier league. In the 10 premier league games under Rafa Benitez, we’ve won 18 points. If you break that down between home and away games. 6 of those points have come from 5 home games while 12 points were from 5 away games.
Doesn’t that tell a story? Our home form has been poorer than the away form of even some mid-table teams. The dissenting Chelsea fans at the Bridge need to understand the damage they’re causing to the club. I don’t understand the 16th min RDM tribute happening match after match. I understood when it happened in the game after his sacking as that was our way to thank the man who played a key role in us winning the champions league. Why are we doing this every single game? Pointless. Just move on and support your team. And this game against Southampton had 38,484 turn up at the Bridge – the lowest ever this season. Fortress Stamford Bridge? More like Fortless Stamford Bridge.
As a manager, you can drill the right habits and techniques in the players, plan a good tactic, pick the right team and hope everything works to the plan and intervene when it doesn’t. For me, Rafa did all these in this game. Some poor final third action from Chelsea and some brilliant moments from Southampton meant it’s a draw.
We should kick on from here. Try to amends for this result. Use the disappointment as a motivator and smash Arsenal out of the park at Stamford bridge this Sunday. If the Chelsea fans at Stamford Bridge don’t act as the real twelfth man for that game, it would be a crying shame. I hope we all keep our differences aside and help Chelsea beat Arsenal this Sunday. KTBFFH!