Gaps to Bridge shown at Chelsea

Posted by Chris Rann

Mike Hewitt/Getty ImagesJay Rodriguez had Southampton off to a bright start with a first minute goal at Stamford Bridge, but Saints were unable to keep Chelsea at bay the rest of the match in a 3-1 defeat.

Sometimes you have to hold your hands up and accept that you were beaten by a better team on the day, and that is how Saints must feel after the 3-1 defeat at Stamford Bridge yesterday.

- Report: Chelsea 3-1 Southampton
- Delaney: Mourinho masterminds comeback win

Saints took the lead after just 13 seconds, Jay Rodriguez latching onto Michael Essien's woeful backpass, but in truth it was one-way traffic from then on. The front three of Fernando Torres, Juan Mata and Eden Hazard showed that there is still a gap to bridge for this fledgling Saints team, their quick feet and intelligent play causing the Saints back four the type of problems they had yet to encounter this season.

In contrast, Saints were wasteful with their attacks, often choosing the wrong pass at the crucial time, something that isn't unique about this game by any stretch of the imagination. It was another area, though, where Saints were roundly beaten -- in the air.

With John Terry and Gary Cahill leading the way for the home side, Chelsea won a staggering 70% of the aerial battles. Terry and Cahill produced an immaculate performance at centre half winning 100% of their personal high duels. It would be both bitter and factual for me to suggest that though Terry gets away with alot in these situations, on the odd occasion when Pablo Osvaldo did beat him in the air, he screamed at the referee and demanded a free kick, which was sadly awarded every time.

It was fitting that it was the two Chelsea defenders that headed their team into the lead. For all the pretty attacks they created, it was their dominance in the air that won them the game -- Terry's headed goal in particular was a sublime example.

It was a lesson for Saints, and one that had perhaps been a while coming. Chelsea got their tactics right and several of Saints star players this season found themselves shunned from the spotlight, feeding off scraps which were few and far between. Saints tactic have worked exceptionally well so far this season, but in the face of the master himself they were found wanting. If there was a worry last season it was a lack of plan B, and that maybe something the Saints coaching staff need to have a serious look at.

If the game wasn't miserable enough, it was worrying to see both Artur Boruc and Morgan Schneiderlin leave the field with injuries. With a very busy festive period coming up, the last thing Saints need is to have their strength in depth tested, but that now looks to be the situation they face.

It shows how far the club have come that back to back defeats to Arsenal and Chelsea are met with such disappointment, but every single Saints fan would have taken seventh at this stage at the start of the season. It is time to put these results behind them and focus on regaining the momentum of their brilliant start.

Keep the faith.


Use a Facebook account to add a comment, subject to Facebook's Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. Your Facebook name, photo & other personal information you make public on Facebook will appear with your comment, and may be used on ESPN's media platforms. Learn more.