As one tweet put it, Chelsea needed this victory against Southampton, if for nothing else than to prevent Antonio Conte from going into full under-the-bridge-dwelling hobo. Dressed once again in his “finest” Chelsea tracksuit, a disheveled Conte and his days-old facial scruff did not look like a man long for the job. His side were 2-0 behind to a relegation-threatened Southampton, who had won just 5 Premier League matches at home since the start of 2017 (that’s 2017, not 2018), and more concerningly, Chelsea looked like utter crap. The players were showing no fight, very little quality, and very little inspiration. It took 55 minutes just to find a shot on target, for example.
But then, a double-change in the 60th minute and Giroud’s subsequent first league goal for Chelsea ten minutes later opened the floodgates and completely changed the game in the final 20 minutes. Welcome back, Chelsea. (At least for now.)
It would be easy for Conte to take credit for this win, with either some half-time team talk or the aforementioned double-change. But in the tunnel interview after the game, Conte gave all the credit to the players.
“It’s not important [what the half-time message was]. I think the most important thing is [that] the players understood that our first half was very negative. And then they had the right reaction in the second half, and that pleases me. I was very disappointed in the first half, very disappointed, but in the second-half, we must be pleased with our reaction, our desire. In every moment, we have to think that it’s important to finish the season in the best possible way. It’s important to have this in mind.”
-Antonio Conte; source: Sky
So say we all.