The lineup Jose Mourinho selected seemed to placate the majority of the fanbase, as Juan Mata returned while Frank Lampard found himself on the bench. The good vibes wouldn't last for long though, as a dreadful backpass from Michael Essien just seconds into the contest led directly to a Southampton goal.
The remainder of the first 45 minutes were pretty solid from the Blues. They didn't allow another shot on target, created several excellent chances of their own, and generally looked the more threatening side. Unfortunately they weren't quite sharp enough to beat Artur Boruc, and went into the break trailing 1-0.
The start of the second half saw Demba Ba enter the fray, and Chelsea continued to look the better side. Ten minutes later the game was level as Gary Cahill cleaned up a mess following a Chelsea corner. The scrum also cost Southampton their first choice keeper, as Artur Boruc was forced to leave the pitch.
Minutes later the Blues had the lead, as a Juan Mata cross was nodded into the back of the net by John Terry. Demba Ba then finished the scoring, tapping in a beautiful cross from Ramires in the dying moments of the match. Chelsea are now all alone in second, trailing Arsenal by four points.
Here are a few thoughts in the immediate aftermath of this game:
- Michael Essien had an eventful return to the pitch. Between the howler that led to the opener and the awful dive that earned him a yellow, I doubt he did much to displace Frank Lampard or Ramires from the first choice starting lineup.
- Hopefully it was just some rust, but Juan Mata didn't really do a whole lot to impress early on today. He looked much better as the game wore on, but he really struggled early on against high pressure and fresh legs.
- I really like this Chelsea side better when we've got a pair of strikers on the pitch, or at the very least Andre Schurrle in a supporting role. Hopefully we see a bit more of this going forward.
- I can't believe I'm actually writing this, but I'm starting to feel pretty comfortable with Fernando Torres on the pitch. For the first extended period of time in his Chelsea tenure, his movement looks as if it actually fits with the system being used, and he's looking useful both with the ball and without because of that. If only he'd find that finishing touch again...
- I'm sure many pundits will have nothing but praise for Soton's approach, as they never changed tactics in order to close up shop after taking an early lead. It certainly created an entertaining game, but you do have to wonder if they'd have been more likely to come away with points by adjusting a bit for the situation.
- Southampton didn't register a shot on target following the gift just seconds into the contest. All in all, it was a very solid looking performance from the Blues today.