3. Little details decided the game’s fate
There were a few little things that stood out like a sore thumb during the game against Southampton. The most concerning was easily the team’s defensive shape when Takumi Minamino scored the goal for the Saints. It was all so chaotic. It sent me back to Chelsea’s loss against Manchester City a couple of months ago, where there were just so many of those same mistakes that City exploited in every single sequence. Acres of space were visible between Kurt Zouma and Cesar Azpilicueta, and the pass to Minamino was picked out so easily. It was not good. Zouma, when going back towards Minamino, could have and should have done better as he was merely jogging at one point.
There were also a few instances where the Blues had trouble getting out of Southampton’s high press in the opening stages of the game. The defenders kept playing the ball at the back with no real support coming from the midfielders. Marcos Alonso didn’t have a great game, by any means. Going forward, he was alright, but had quite a few difficulties when he was asked to defend or track back. Mateo Kovacic wasn’t as influential against Southampton as he was against Newcastle, and that hurt Chelsea when it was trying to create clear-cut chances.
While I point out the negatives, I think I should also talk about a couple of positives. I think Reece James and N’Golo Kante—especially the latter—had good games. James was always available on the overlap, while Kante’s energy was really important going forward and staying back. The French midfielder had a whopping seven tackles and five interceptions, thirteen recoveries, one block and 14 presses. Kante hasn’t really featured in the Chelsea line-up ever since Tuchel took over, so this might be a return of the wholesome Frenchman. He’s too good to be on the bench, and on his best days, he’s too good—period.
What are some of the lessons you learnt? Let us know in the comments or on Twitter!