Chelsea visited Southampton for the first game of on Saturday and this game followed the trend of brilliant comebacks set in the last week.
Chelsea’s starting XI was fairly standard with the only changes being Zappacosta and Christensen who came in for Moses and Rudiger. Southampton chose to go with Long upfront while Charlie Austin started from the bench.
Chelsea who in recent games tend to have a good first half before they collapse in the second, chose to begin with poor first half performance. Southampton dominated play and Chelsea could not muster a single shot on target. The breakthrough for the Saints came in the 21st minute as Bertrand was able to breach the backline and square it for Tadić who gave Southampton the lead. Chelsea gave little back in a response as the whistle blew for half time.
The second half began in the same way the first ended as Chelsea were falling apart at every attack from Southampton. A cross in the 60th minute from Ward-Prowse led to Bednarek scoring a second for Southampton with 30 minutes to play. It looked like this would be another demoralising loss for Chelsea, until Conte unlike himself brought on Giroud and Pedro in the 61st minute instead of the usual 70 or 80th.
Chelsea immediately looked a better team as Giroud gave a far better presence for the likes of Hazard and Willian to play off. A cross by Alonso in the 70th minute led to a brilliant header by Giroud to make it 2-1 for Chelsea. The goal led to a sudden change in mood as Chelsea began to dominate and Southampton began to retreat into their penalty box. A good run by Willian down the left allowed him to cross to Hazard who controlled nicely and hammered in the equalising goal in the 75th minute. To complete a remarkable 10 minutes for Chelsea, Olivier Giroud netted the winner in the 79th minute after scruffy play within the box.
Post match there have been questions raised as to whether Alonso should have been on the pitch after a gruesome tackle on Long, Alonso might receive a ban in retrospect which would not be too damaging as it would give Emerson a chance to play. Conte gave all the credit to the players post match, but also stated that their performance in the first half had made him furious.
Chelsea are back to within 7 points of Spurs and while a place in the Champions League is only a hope, winning these games is good for momentum. Conte also showed a willingness to try something new after changing formation to a 4-2-4 on Giroud’s arrival.
It was only Southampton and Chelsea should not have been losing in the first place anyway, but the way in which the comeback was made should hopefully encourage the players to carry on for the remaining games.