Chelsea’s defensive fragilities were on display yet again as they squandered a 2 goal lead at home to Southampton.
Hakim Ziyech was named on Chelsea bench as Pulisic made his first appearance of the campaign after returning from injury. Kepa replaced injured Edouard Mendy while Theo Walcott made his second Southampton debut
Kepa was called into action early in the game as he saved an effort from Che Adams in the 9th minute. Chelsea had the ball in Southampton’s net in the 13th minute through Timo Werner only to denied by the offside flag. However, it didn’t take long for the German to open his account in Premier League as his intelligent dummy on a through ball from Chilwell allowed him to turn his marker and leave a couple more defenders trailing as he cut across to score the goal.
Chelsea were in cruise mode as Pulisic and Mount combined cleverly to carve out Southampton’s defence only to be denied by McCarthy. Werner scored his second goal in the 28th minute after an intelligent long ball from Jorginho caught Southampton defender out, as he lifted the ball over McCarthy and nodded home from close range. Chelsea continued to create more chances as Werner missed a decent chance while Kante’s header was parried away by McCarthy. Southampton seemed to be heading to a 2-0 scoreline into half time until Kai Havertz lost possession in Chelsea half and Ings who was played through by Che Adams rounded Kepa and slotted into an empty net to reduce the deficit by 1.
Chilwell was booked early in the second half as the left-back prevented Ward-Prowse from counter-attacking by tugging his shirt. Ings went close to equalising after playing a one-two on the edge of the box but dragged his shot narrowly wide. However, Southampton scored the equaliser within few minutes as Zouma’s weak back pass made Kepa run out of his box to intercept the pass from onrushing Che Adams. Kepa failed to intercept the ball as Adams lashed home from close range. The Blues responded in quick fashion as Werner squared a pass to Havertz to score his first Premier League goal and Chelsea’s 3rd goal just two minutes after Southampton had equalised.
Chelsea’s lead was in danger as the defence looked clueless at times and were guilty of not clearing their lines. Ziyech made his debut in the 72nd minute as Mason Mount was withdrawn. Havertz missed a good opportunity to score Chelsea’s fourth as he headed wide after being unmarked from a set-piece. Kepa made a good save from Ings as Chelsea replaced Pulisic with Reece James to preserve their lead. However, the latter gave away a needless foul in Chelsea half and the resulting free kick clearance fell to Walcott, whose shot across the goal was headed by Vestergaard past Kepa to score the equaliser in the second minute of added time.
Lampard informed he and his team were frustrated with their performance and lamented the fact they couldn’t kill the game while being in control, especially in the first half. When questioned about Chelsea’s defence, Lampard said it maybe because of lack of pre-season and working time with the players. However, he admitted they need to improve their defence.
Chelsea striker Timo Werner echoed his manager’s reactions as he was happy on scoring goals for his team, but disappointed with the result. He emphasised the importance of defence in order to win games and compete for titles.
Saints manager Ralph was extremely happy with a deserved point after being 2 goals down under 30 minutes. He acknowledged the fact Chelsea were the better team in the first half, but his team responded well in the second half to claw back into the game.