3. Danny Ings against Chelsea’s suddenly solid defense
The Chelsea defense has been the most improved segment of the Blues since Thomas Tuchel arrived. There is the press which is more organized and aggressive now as the first wave. There is the second wave of man marking that takes place below the press. And finally, there is the third wave of three centerbacks that will outnumber the opposition attackers in most circumstances. Chelsea’s shape is very counter proof, provided the Blues have reached the final third. Others wise, transitions can hurt when wingbacks are involved and the width of the back three doesn’t have the time to delay for reinforcements. Southampton, being as pressing and direct as they are, are sure to exploit that weakness of three at the back.
And normally, with the defense playing as well as it is, that might not be an issue. But then there is Danny Ings. Ings has been a man reborn at Southampton under Hasenhuttl but that alone doesn’t make him dangerous. What makes him dangerous is his uncanny ability to score from almost any situation, at any angle, with almost any service.
It’s a trait Chelsea’s own Olivier Giroud possesses and one the Blues are generally weak towards. Opponents almost always seem to score spectacularly against Chelsea when their defense is solid and that’s about the only way Ings knows how to score.
The best attacker this Tuchel defense has had to deal with thus far has been Son Heung-Min, and he spent half of the match shackled by Jose Mourinho’s caution. After that, the drop off in quality is stark. Ings will be a test of this back line in a way they haven’t seen lately. With Atletico Madrid coming up next with perhaps one of the best striker factories/rejuvenation centers in the world, Ings will be a solid test and warm up for things to come.
What key clashes are you looking for in this one? Let us know in the comments and on Twitter!