The first-half of Chelsea’s match against Southampton at St. Mary's yesterday served as the strongest test yet for the new 3-4-3 formation’s ability to cope with high pressure. It passed with flying colors, preventing Saints from getting into dangerous areas and from creating any real chances of note.
Chelsea started playing much more on the front foot in the second half, but the first 45 was the most solid display of concentrate team defence that we’ve seen all season. Left wing-back Marcos Alonso played a big part in that, despite facing the usually dangerous Dusan Tadic.
"We are defending well. We needed help from the team to remain on top and they did that by running and pressing high. Starting from the goalkeeper to the striker we are doing a great job defensively and this is how we have to continue."
"It was a tough game. Southampton started very well, pressing high, and we had a little difficulty but in the end we played a great game and we are very happy with the performance of the team."
Chelsea got a very early lead via an Eden Hazard left-footed shot on tight space, then got a second from an amazing long-range effort by Diego Costa in the first 10 minutes of the second half. Costa doesn’t score much from outside the box, but that was his second such effort in four league games.
"Both goals were amazing and with the players we have we are always going to create chances and score goals, and they showed the quality they have."
"It has been amazing how tight things are up there and we just need to keep winning to stay up there."
-Marcos Alonso; Source: Chelsea FC
After an entire season in which good collective performances were odd rarities, it's certainly refreshing to see old and new players doing their best as a group to push Chelsea back towards the top of England once again.
The hardest part now may be to stay focused, humble, and not look too far ahead. One game at a time, as the old cliche goes, is a recipe for success that hasn't been proven wrong yet.