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Full Time: Great return of Chelsea, Southampton 2-3 Chelsea

Premier League

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Full Time: Great return of Chelsea, Southampton 2-3 Chelsea

Premier League

14 April 2018 Saturday 14:18
Full Time: Great return of Chelsea, Southampton 2-3 Chelsea

90+4 min Cahill is booked for a foul on Long.

90+2 min Manolo Gabbiadini replaces Jan Bednarek.

90+1 min The substitute Sims forces an excellent save from Courtois! He broke into the box in the inside-left channel and smacked a low shot across goal that was beaten away by Courtois.

90 min There will be five minutes of added time. Southampton are having lots of the ball now but don’t really look like scoring.

88 min Bertrand’s outswinging corner is headed firmly towards goal from 12 yards by Hoedt, and Courtois leaps to his left to hold onto the ball. Good save.

88 min The match is slipping away from Southampton, who are running round in a bit of a daze. You’d do the same if you’d been mugged by a handsome Frenchman.

87 min “Did Southampton have a man sent off or something?” asks Colin Young. “9+0+0+0+0+0+0+1 = 10.”

You’re not one of those hipsters who includes the keeper in the formation, are you?

86 min Two weeks in a row Southampton have played excellently against a leading side and (in all probability) lost 3-2. They have easier fixtures to come but this is a savage blow. Meanwhile, Chelsea make a change: Victor Moses replaces Eden Hazard.

85 min “The Cock n Bull in Venice, LA opens for games at 4.30 am and I found myself yapping like a Pavlovian dog for a Guinness once,” sniffs Ian Copestake. “Alas I was rebuffed as they were only allowed to serve from 7am!”

84 min Another Southampton substitution: Dusan Tadic is replaced by Josh Sims.

83 min “I actually think some of the more dislikable characters in the Premier League are doing a stellar job of promoting English literacy throughout the masses,” says Paul Fowler. “How many people would use words like sanctimonious, myopic and narcissistic if it wasn’t for Guardiola, Wenger or Mourinho?”

82 min Willian is booked for offending Mike Dean’s sensibilities.

81 min Shane Long is booked for a tired hack at Pedro. Southampton’s heads, and possibly their legs, have gone. This is pretty cruel because they were superb for so much of the game.

80 min Charlie Austin replaces James Ward-Prowse. I cannot believe this scoreline. Chelsea were garbage for 70 minutes and then they scored three in nine minutes!

79 min Giroud’s performance here is another reminder of the value of the specialist substitute. They are pure gold

GOAL! Southampton 2-3 Chelsera (Giroud 78)

Olivier Giroud completes a spectacular, unforseeable comeback with another excellent goal! A free-kick led to a bit of head tennis in the area before falling to Giroud, who dragged an excellent half-volley into the corner from 15 yards.

77 min “Earliest drink before a game...” says Nicholas Alvarez. “I clock it at 05.45 in Fremont, California watching the FA cup final between Spurs and Coventry on a satellite transmission from Canada...the only place in the Bay Area showing the game...black coffee and Kaluha. Cheers!”

76 min Southampton look shocked. They were in total control at 2-0; six minutes later they are hanging on for a point.

75 min “What’s this I’m hearing about the media quashing a Chelseafan campaign to install John Terry as manager?” says Matt Loten. “ Personal thoughts on Terry aside, when will fans realise that a good manager a club legend does not necessarily make? Parachuting in someone with 600 appearances for the club is no more of a guarantee of success than someone who’s never even visited the ground before, and risks tarnishing their legacy forever. Actually, on second thoughts, maybe they should give JT the job.”

GOAL! Southampton 2-2 Chelsea (Hazard 75)

It’s 2-2! Willian beats his man on the left and flashes a cross into a crowded area. It comes to Hazard, who controls it calmly and sweeps an emphatic shot past McCarthy.

73 min Hoedt is back on the field but so are Chelsea, who didn’t come out for the second half until that Giroud goal. Now they have renewed pep in their step.

71 min Hoedt was injured as he challenged Giroud for that cross and is off the field receiving treatment.

GOAL! Southampton 2-1 Chelsea (Giroud 70)

Giroud gets Chelsea back in the game with a fantastic header! Alonso crossed towards the near post wfrom a deep position, and Giroud dived forward to steer a brilliant header past McCarthy from 12 yards. That is a seriously good goal.

69 min If Chelsea lose this they will have taken 12 points from 12 league games this year: W3 D3 L6. That’s not ideal.

67 min “Magnificently childish ball-to-the-face from Hazard,” says Matt Dony. “It’s not big, it’s not clever, but it’s damn entertaining!”

Up with this sort of thing!

66 min Long, who has worked his sock off, leads another counter-attack that ends with an unpenalised backpass to Courtois.

66 min “Well thank god the damn dog woke me up early,” says Rachel Clifton. “But suffering through games like these sans booze is tough. 2-0 come on.”

What’s the earliest you’ve ever had a drink because of a football match? I remember having a few before work when England played Brazil at 7.30am during the 2002 World Cup. 

65 min Bertrand is booked for blocking Azpilicueta’s attempt to take a throw-in.

64 min This scoreline doesn’t flatter Southampton one bit. Hazard is booked for throwing the ball into the cface of Hoedt.

61 min Chelsea make a double change: Pedro and Giroud replaces Zappacosta and Morata.

61 min That was such an accomplished finish. Cahill might feel he could have done better, with the ball sailing over his head, but it was a difficult ball to deal with.

GOAL! Southampton 2-0 Chelsea (Bednarek 60)

Bednarek has scored on his first Premier League start! Another superb, dipping free-kick from Ward-Prowse cleared everyone and came to Bednarek, who controlled a sweet half-volley past Courtois from six yards!

59 min Another corner to Southampton on the left. Ward-Prowse’s big dipper is accidentally volleyed away from goal by the stretching Bednarek, who was off balance after a wrestle with Alonso.

57 min “What is wrong with Morata?” says Paul Neilan. “Should he not, at least, be playing for a move? My concern may be Fantasy Football-based concern but concern nonetheless.”

He’s got a conspiracy complex. Some brilliant players just don’t take to English football and he’s another.

56 min Make that three good efforts. The corner is played short and worked to Willian, who curls low towards goal from inside the D. McCarthy sees it very late and does really well to get down to his left and save. The rebound comes to Hazard, who is offside.

55 min Two good efforts from Chelsea. Fabregas’s volley is blocked, and moments later Hazard squeezes a shot towards the near post that is pushed round by McCarthy.

54 min Long almost makes it 2-0 with a superb solo counter-attack. He ran behind the defence onto Hojbjerg’s long pass and seemed to be pushed just outside the area by the covering Christensen. Long bot straight to his feet, moved the ball onto his left foot and mishit a shot that looped towards goal and was tipped over by Courtois.

49 min “Wait a minute, Mac Millings can’t bring himself to hate anyone in football anymore?” says Matt Dony. “So where does he get his enjoyment from? What’s the point of it all? My irrational/rational (delete as appropriate) hatred of Chelsea FC, Arsene Wenger, Fun-time Bobby Huth, Pep ‘Mes-Que-Un-Sanctimonious-Club’ Guardiola, and a whole host of other people I haven’t met and don’t really know is the main thing that keeps me going through a season.”

Hating others is for the young. You know you’ve grown up when you turn it all inward.

48 min Southampton win an early corner on the left. Ward-Prowse is one of the best set-piece takers in the league and this is another beauty. It dips onto the six-yard line, where there is a slightly strange block tackle between Yoshida and Courtois before the ricochets to safety.

47 min “Sir,” says Geoff James. “Those are formidable mental gymnastics to conclude that (i) Alonso was “clumsy”; and (ii) Dean didn’t see it.”

46 min Southampton begin the second half. AS IT STANDS they are out of the relegation places.

Antonio Conte has left the dressing-room early and is sitting alone on the bench. Oh dear.

45+2 min “It would be a great shame if Southampton go down so I hope they win today,” says Kira Nelson. “A great club with a great academy. They have produced so many world class players and used to play such attractive attacking football. I remember the Southampton of a few years ago when they demolished Sunderland 8-0. Where has that Southampton gone? They just need the right manager to give them their mojo back, so they deserve the chance to set matters straight. Not to mention, where would Liverpool get their players from?”

I think your second question answered the first one.

45+1 min Three minutes of added time. Fabregas’s shot deflects just over the bar, and Christensen flicks a header wide from the resulting corner. It wasn’t much of a chance.

45 min In Alonso’s defence, I think the tackle was more clumsy than malicious - he had to jump over the grounded Fabregas and then couldn’t adjust his feet before they ploughed into Long. But it was a bad tackle and he should certainly have been booked.

44 min Ward-Prowse is booked for a vigilante foul on Alonso, who had just got away with a nasty tackle on Long. He jumped studs first into his Achilles. I don’t t

43 min Hojbjerg is penalised for a scissor tackle on Zappacosta, and then hoofs the ball into the crowd in frustration. Mike Dean books him for one or the other, I’m not sure which.

42 min A lovely, dipping free-kick from Ward-Prowse is headed wide by Yoshida, who was under pressure and couldn’t twist his neck enough to divert the ball towards goal. It was a decent chance.

40 min Southampton have been so much better since the goal, which gave them an intravenous injection of confidence. Chelsea are still dominating possession, but Southampton look more dangerous on the break.

39 min “If we win today (can hardly believe I’m daring to entertain the thought) then we have a small chance of staying up, that’s as far as I dare go,” says Arwen Verrall. “Somewhat out of the habit of dealing with the great escape years but how quickly it comes flooding back.”

If you need to win the last game at home to Manchester City, you should register Le Tissier. He would touch the ball twice in the first 89 minutes before roofing a matchwinning volley from 30 yards.

38 min Ward-Prowse’s smart snapshot from 20 yards is well saved by Courtois, sprawling to his right. He gets to his feet to save Tadic’s feeble follow-up, though that wouldn’t have counted as he was offside.

36 min Long moseys infield from the left, realises he has no relevant support and decides to shoot from 25 yards. It whistles a few yards wide.

34 min Morata has an accidental clash of heads with Yoshisda and then shoves Hojbjerg. Not for the first time this season, he looks like the world is against him.

32 min “What’s your opinion of Mark Hughes as a manager?” says Shaun Wilkinson. “I feel that, although at times he has done himself no favours in PR terms, his record is really not that bad; it seems some self-consciously modern football observers are always so desperate to show their contempt for ‘proper football men’, and because Hughes comes into that category for them, they try to make him out to be a hapless chancer who keeps getting jobs because he is one of the aforementioned PFMs. His record doesn’t really deserve that for me. What do you think?”

Yes, I agree. I think his best years were early in his career, with Wales and that excellent Blackburn side, but he did a decent job at Stoke as well. The Man City job must haunt him, especially that weird run of draws in the winter of 2009. If he could have held onto that job until the start of the following season, his career might be very 

29 min Willian’s inswinging corner from the left almost sneaks straight into the net! The backpedalling McCarthy just managed to flap it away at the last minute.

27 min A lofted ball to the far post is headed back across goal by Zappacosta, who seemed to foul Bertrand in the process, and headed wide by the stretching Morata. There would have been ructions had that gone in because Mike Dean didn’t give a foul

26 min What an opportunity this is for Southampton. Chelsea are full of class but they are not exactly oozing professional pride. If Southampton win today, they have every chance of staying up.

25 min Long’s dangerous inswinging cross from the left just evades the stretching Cedric. Southampton have been superb since the goal.

23 min “Dear Tracksuit Dave,” says Mac Millings. “Despite giving it my best effort, I haven’t felt as much emotion in 46 years of life as Antonio Conte shows in 90 minutes. How somene would be able to summon the energy to fake that is quite beyond me. Maybe it’s his constant delight at keeping John Terry out of a job.”

GOAL! Southampton 1-0 Chelsea (Tadic 21)

Southampton take the lead! Dusan Tadic is the score but it was made by a storming run from Ryan Bertrand. He covered half the length of the pitch before swerving around Azpilicueta and into the area. From there he was aware enough to cut the ball back perfectly for Tadic, who sidefooted past Courtois from eight yards.

18 min Alonso strolls forward and is fouled by Romeu 30 yards from goal. It’s far to the left for a shot, so Willian clips it into the area. It just evades the stretching Morata and bounces into the loving embrace of McCarthy.

16 min “Bobbo,” says Mac Millings. “I’m old now, and life is too short to go looking for conflict, so I haven’t been willing to muster up enough bile to hate anyone in football for a long time - but if John Terry became Chelsea manager, I think I might be prepared to make an exception.”

Can’t you just let bigots be bigots? Bygones, I meant bygones.

15 min Morata runs the ball out of play. Corner to Chelsea. Thankfully for the referee Mike Dean, nothing comes of it.

14 min This is all a bit cautious from Southampton. They are up against a decent team, of course, but I expected a bit more oomph. Maybe their plan is to stay in the game for an hour and win it with their attacking substitutes.

12 min The PFA shortlists are in, and Emerson Palmieri has just missed out.

Manchester City trio up against Salah, Kane and De Gea for PFA award

10 min Chelsea continue to dominate possession, with Southampton playing on the break. The pace of play from both sides has been a bit slow.

8min Big news from Kirkwall, where Orkney are 2-0 up after five minutes. They’re going to be champions!

7 min “You are a funny guy,” says Tracksuit Dave. “Now we will have 90 mins of him jumping up and down in his technical are to make out that he cares. But again you in the media aren´t allowed to question the authenticity of Conte´s touchline pain are you?”

Lighten up Dave, it’s the weekend. This whole idea of the media having a party line is, in my experience, hardly ever true. I’m sure there’s some unconscious groupthink but it’s rarely a deliberate policy. Also, Conte won you the league last season!

6 min A couple of good crosses, first from Bertrand and then Tadic, flash across the area. Southampton only had Long in the box, which might be a problem with this formation.

5 min Chelsea have had a lot of early possession but all in front of Southampton.

4 min “That “madman” line has reminded me of my favourite Ferguson quote,” says Mac Millings. “’In the evening I have one of those rewarding and satisfying obligations: helping to judge a painting competition for primary school children, organised by the Rainbow Trust in aid of St. Francis Hospice...It’s amazing how brilliant the kids are when they are encouraged to express themselves...I’m loaded with flu but I was never going to miss this engagement.’ I’ve often wondered how many of those vulnerable children survived Typhoid Fergie’s visit.”

Ah man, I miss Fergie. I’m re-reading Daniel Taylor’s brilliant This Is The One at the moment, and some of the Fergie passages read like Irvine Welsh. Imagine having that bloke on your side. You’d think you could climb Everest in your slippers. I used to think he was the greatest football manager of all time; I’m now almost certain he’s the greatest living human.

2 min “As I don’t care a bit about the match at hand, the business about the FA Cup does interest me,” says Hubert O’Hearn. “I do wish UEFA would butt out and leave each nation to its own way of sorting out its Champions League entries. Of course England would allot at least the top 2 of its 4 entries to the 1st and 2nd place finishers. But beyond that? Who’s to say? Why not a playoff between the FA Cup and League Cup winners? Or a plaoff amongst finishers 3-6? Or (and this one I really like) let the fans choose any team outside of the top 3? Let’s have some fun for a change!”

1 min Peep peep! Chelsea kick off on a bright, sunny afternoon.

The players are in the tunnel. If nothing else, Southampton deserve to stay up because of their kit, a snazzy tribute o the Ranx Xerox classic of the early 1980s.

Antonio Conte: Chelsea staff and players must share blame for poor season

“You mentioned the FA Cup,” says Ian Copestake, “and it reminded me that I had forgotten the poor thing was still going on.”

Technically it’s been dead since the early 2000s. But they keep wheeling it out, like Jimmy White’s brother.

Updated at 12.12pm BST

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22m ago11:56

“Drinkwater not even on the bench today?” says Chris. “He’s rightfully expressed his concern about lack of playing time but I can’t see why he’s been banished like this. He’s still a CFC player and this smacks of silly beggars by Conte.”

Sir Alex Ferguson used to say, re: his team selection, that you should never try to read the mind of a madman. With Chelsea, that applies to the whole club.

Southampton (3-4-2-1) McCarthy; Bednarek, Yoshida, Hoedt; Cedric, Romeu, Hojbjerg, Bertrand; Ward-Prowse, Tadic; Long.
Substitutes: Forster, McQueen, Sims, Lemina, Boufal, Austin, Gabbiadini.

Chelsea (3-4-2-1) Courtois; Azpilicueta, Cahill, Christensen; Zappacosta, Fabregas, Kante, Alonso; Willian, Hazard; Morata.
Substitutes: Caballero, Emerson, Barkley, Bakayoko, Moses, Pedro, Giroud.

Referee Mike Dean.

The Guardian

Updated: 14.04.2018 16:41
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