Saints earn a point at Chelsea

By SFC Media time Wed 02 Jan Chelsea v Saints
Photo by Matt Watson | Oriol Romeu
Wed 02 Jan 7.45PM
Premier League
Rüdiger (74')
yellow card
Bednarek (30') Romeu (79')
Referee: Jonathan Moss | Venue: Stamford Bridge | Attendance: 40,668

Southampton produced a determined display at Stamford Bridge, as they started 2019 with an impressive point against Chelsea.

A first clean sheet in the Premier League since October was the foundation of the night, as Ralph Hasenhüttl’s side earned a goalless draw in London.

The downside of the evening was that results elsewhere meant Saints slipped down to 18th in the table, but there was little doubting that this was a positive point for the visitors, who now head into league games with Leicester, Everton and Crystal Palace later this month.

Hasenhüttl made eight changes for the game, with only Jan Bednarek, Oriol Romeu and James Ward-Prowse surviving from the team that lost 3-1 to Manchester City on Sunday.

It meant a Premier League debut for goalkeeper Angus Gunn, while Cédric saw his first action under the new Saints boss, being deployed at left-back, as Yan Valery returned on the right-hand side.

Hasenhüttl also gave a first place on the bench to youngster Callum Slattery, who was joined there by fellow Academy graduate Kayne Ramsay.

The opening exchanges saw Chelsea gain the upper hand in terms of possession, but there was little in the way of clear-cut opportunities for either side.

In fact, it took until the 12th minute for the first chance of note to be created, as César Azpilicueta played a long ball through the middle for the run of Alvaro Morata, who had eluded Saints’ backline, but his flicked header from just inside the area was held by a diving Gunn.

LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 02: Angus Gunn of Southampton during the Premier League match between Chelsea FC and Southampton FC at Stamford Bridge on January 02, 2019 in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by Matt Watson/Southampton FC via Getty Images)
Angus Gunn points the way on his Premier League debut (Photo: Matt Watson)

Saints responded themselves soon after, as Cédric showed some prowess with his less-favoured left foot, swinging in a nice delivery that was met by the head of Danny Ings, only for his effort to fly a few yards over.

While that was one of few efforts from them early on, they were doing an excellent job of nullifying Chelsea’s own attack, and, when Willian did threaten in the 25th minute by cutting onto his left foot in the area, Maya Yoshida put himself bravely in the way of the shot to divert it away.

Jan Bednarek then went into the book just before the half-hour mark, as he was judged to have fouled Alvaro Morata during a Chelsea counter-attack, but his intervention was still an important one, putting off the striker enough to prevent him completing what could have been a decisive pass to put Willian through.

Moments later, the Blues did get in behind the Saints defence, and, as it had been earlier, it came via a long pass out of defence.

This time it was Antonio Rüdiger’s ball, which picked out the run of Eden Hazard, whose touch was impeccable, bringing it down onto his left foot, but Gunn repelled his strike brilliantly at close range, as the biggest chance of the game to that point went begging.

20190102 Chelsea v Southampton
Cédric wins a header ahead of N'Golo Kanté (Photo: Matt Watson)

Chelsea boss Maurizio Sarri was forced into a change with a few minutes left before the break, as Willian went off limping to be replaced by Ruben Loftus-Cheek.

They went close to an opener on 40 minutes, as a quick move saw the ball shifted between N’Golo Kanté, Ross Barkley and Morata, whose first-time shot towards the far corner deflected off Yan Valery and flew just wide of the near post, with Gunn wrong-footed.

Still, Saints held firm through to the break, when they made their first change, as Shane Long replaced Ings.

If Chelsea had finished the opening half the stronger, it was the visitors who started the second the brightest, Stuart Armstrong drawing a good save from Kepa Arrizabalaga with a low, curling shot from 25 yards that the home keeper pushed round the post.

At the other end, Gunn had to do similar from Hazard, after he drove into the box and shifted the ball onto his right foot in the 58th minute, with the Saints keeper alive to the danger as he pushed the ball past his near post.

20190102 Chelsea v Southampton
Stuart Armstrong produced one of Saints' best efforts (Photo: Matt Watson)

Saints were offering more of a threat by this point, though, and Oriol Romeu was the next to test Kepa, with a half-volley from 18 yards that was well held.

They got another good sight of goal shortly after the hour, as Armstrong was impeded by Rüdiger just outside the area, but Ward-Prowse’s free-kick hit the wall.

Perhaps frustrated by the way the game was going for his team, Sarri sent on Cesc Fàbregas for Barkley midway through the half, and it was a change that almost paid instant dividends, as the midfielder slipped in Morata to dink the ball past Gunn, but the assistant referee’s flag denied him, with the striker having edged offside.

He was onside in the 78th minute, when the Blues broke and Loftus-Cheek put him clear down the inside-left, but this time he could not beat Gunn, who saved at his near post to keep the scores level.

The game edged closer to its conclusion with Chelsea trying to ramp up the pressure further, but Hasenhüttl's men were continuing to hold firm.

The Saints boss made his second change with less than two minutes left on the clock, as Armstrong was withdrawn and Charlie Austin was sent on.

There was one heart-in-mouth moment left for the visitors, as Long survived a Chelsea penalty appeal when Alonso went down under pressure from him, with referee Jonathan Moss dismissing the claims shortly before blowing the final whistle.


Head to Head Stats

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Kepa Arrizabalaga (GK)
Antonio Rüdiger yellow card
Marcos Alonso
David Luiz
César Azpilicueta (C)
N'Golo Kanté
Ross Barkley
replace Cesc Fàbregas (68′)
replace Ruben Loftus-Cheek (37′)
Álvaro Morata
Eden Hazard
Willy Caballero
Ethan Ampadu
Cesc Fàbregas
Ruben Loftus-Cheek
Davide Zappacosta
Andreas Christensen


Angus Gunn (GK)
Cédric Soares
Yan Valery
Jannik Vestergaard
Maya Yoshida
Jan Bednarek yellow card
James Ward-Prowse
Nathan Redmond
replace Jack Stephens (95′)
Stuart Armstrong
replace Charlie Austin (89′)
Oriol Romeu (C) yellow card
Danny Ings
replace Shane Long (45′)
Mohamed Elyounoussi
Alex McCarthy
Charlie Austin
Jack Stephens
Callum Slattery
Shane Long
Kayne Ramsay
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