It might look like Chelsea has not been as impressive as their last year when they won the Premier League title with seven points clear. Looking at their performance so far, they have managed to win against Manchester United but have lost against Manchester City and West Ham, plus equalising with Arsenal and Liverpool. What it all adds up to is their third position in the Premier League table which compared to last year does not look much impressive.
However, their recent performances have been very admirable. They have won eight of their previous 10 games, losing one and drawing one. Even their coach Antonio Conte seems pretty impressed with his players saying: ” There is a team winning every game right now, but at the same time you have to concede that other teams are trying their best and in the last 10 games we have done a good job.”
This Saturday, they defeated Southampton by 1-0. Alonso provided the lead and garnered the much needed 3-points for his team. While there were many good shots on target from the Chelsea side, however they could not extend the difference of one goal till the end.
Antonio Conte had Eden Hazard, Willian and Pedro as up front players who all created a lot of problems for the Southampton team. While the striker Alvaro Morata, who was suffering from back problem, was sharing the bench with Michy Batshuayi as substitute players. Additionally, Conte had replaced Antonio Rudiger with Gary Cahill while the midfield duo remained the same with N’Golo Kante and Tiemoue Bakayoko.
While Mauricio Pellegrino had brought a much changed lineup from the previous one which had suffered an embarassing defeat of 4-1 against Leicester City. He started the game without Virgil van Dijk who is considered one of the best defenders in the Premier League. Quite surprisingly, Virgil van Dijk remained an unused substitute during the entire play. While Charlie Austin and Sofiane Boufal were also relegated as substitute players. Only Oriol Romeu and Ryan Bertrand were featured from the very beginning.
Looked like the Southampton team had just one goal to fulfill- not lose the game. Therefore, we did not see much attack coming from their side. Their goal keeper Fraser Forster did a couple of super saves when Chelsea were bent on getting a lead. However, the score came during the stoppage time of the first half when Alonso managed to curl in the free-kick and getting it past the goalkeeper’s hands.
For all the other teams, the title race seems almost over since Manchester City has raced ahead of everyone with 14 points clear, after recently beating the Spurs. Conte had even admitted recently the improbability of his team over-taking City to win the title. He said: “When you have a competitor like Manchester City that every game they are winning it is very difficult to think you can fight for the title.”
However, Chelsea could hope to compete well for the second spot with Manchester United who might have lost some points after the Derby defeat. Currently, they at the third spot of the Premier League table, closely competing with Manchester United with a three points difference while the fourth-placed Liverpool is hoping to catch up with 4 points lagging behind Chelsea.
The next matches of Chelsea are against Bournemouth and Everton, opponents against which they are very likely to prevail.
The article was written for FootballWeeks.com by Syyed Mohi. He can always be reached via his Facebook Account