Chelsea’s stuttering start to the season continued as they were deservedly beaten by a well-organised and battling Southampton side.
Having beaten Everton on the opening day, the Blues have since followed that up with a 2-2 draw against Spurs and a 3-0 loss to Leeds, before returning to winning ways at the weekend with a 2-1 victory over Leicester.
Chelsea did take the lead in the 23rd minute at St Mary’s though through summer signing, Raheem Sterling. Kai Havertz slipped the ball into the channel to Mason Mount, who in turn squared the ball across the six-yard box to find Sterling. The England international’s first attempt was squandered under the sliding challenge of Romain Perraud, only for the summer signing to compose himself and net his third goal for the club at the second attempt.
Chelsea’s lead would last just six minutes, however, as they failed to clear a poor Saints corner, the loose ball rolling invitingly to Romeo Lavia on the edge of the box, before the Belgian midfielder took a touch to set himself and slammed it past Edouard Mendy.
Considering there were rumours of dressing room discontent in the first week of the season, Southampton put in an energetic and organised display, and turned the game on its head as the clock ticked into first-half stoppage time. James Ward-Prowse laid the ball into the path of Perraud down the left before Frenchman fizzed a ball into the box to pick out Adam Armstrong. His effort deflected off a Chelsea defender and into the back of the net to leave Mendy with no chance.
Ralph Hassenhuttl’s side twice went close to extending their lead in the second half, though summer signing Marc Cucurella produced a vital block to deny Mohamed Elyounoussi at the back post, while Thiago Silva also produced a sensational block on the line to prevent a Mohammed Salisu header from finding the back of the net.
Chelsea had the vast majority of the ball throughout the game, but really seemed to lack attacking cohesion, and rarely threatened Gavin Bazunu’s goal, and speaking after the game, a downtrodden Thomas Tuchel admitted that his side are not particularly difficult to beat.
2 – Chelsea have lost at least two of their opening five games to a Premier League campaign for just the second time in 27 seasons, after losing three of their first five in 2015-16 – eventually finishing 10th place that year. Ominous. pic.twitter.com/qmQIoBJy3z
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) August 30, 2022
“We started well in all the games almost but obviously we are struggling with our focus and consistency in matches,” he told BT Sport. “It’s not enough to play 20 minutes good. We struggled to find answers and find the way back if things don’t go in our direction. Things did go in our direction today but then we struggled after the equaliser.
“I don’t know if concern is the right word. I absolutely dislike to lose, it is the second time this season and I don’t think it takes a lot to beat us and this I don’t like.
“We try to win matches and the way we do this is something we need to understand as fast as possible.”
The Blues came into the game without a number of first-choice midfield options, and Tuchel was dealt a blow as Ruben Loftus-Cheek was forced to be withdrawn at half-time.
“[He has a] Hamstring injury. I also don’t understand why we are in this situation with injuries to all midfield.”
Tuchel refuted suggestions that his side were reliant on Raheem Sterling’s goals, saying that his side’s defeats are down to a lack of consistency and too many individual errors all over the pitch.
“We played with four offensive players now, many many times. I think in the first 20 minutes we created half chances but struggled to score. That is also not brand new for us and that doesn’t necessarily have the consequence you can lose matches, you can win 1-0.
“Amount of individual errors, lack of consistency is too much at the minute.”