Eden Hazard opened the scoring for the Blues, who temporarily go top of the table, with Liverpool and Manchester City set to kick-off at 16:30 BST. Chelsea extended their unbeaten start to the Premier League season by comfortably beating Southampton at St Mary’s.
Ross Barkley added their second, tapping in Olivier Giroud’s acrobatic cross, before substitute Alvaro Morata netted a third, chipping over oncoming home goalkeeper Alex McCarthy. Defeat for Mark Hughes’ side means they remain in 16th, and their run without a win against the Premier League‘s ‘big six’ is extended to 26 games.
Chelsea started strongly, and almost took the lead after seven minutes when Willian’s low shot hit the bar via a deflection off Wesley Hoedt. But the in-form Hazard was on hand to break the deadlock on the half-hour mark when he slotted past McCarthy from Barkley’s pass.
And while Danny Ings and Ryan Bertrand spurned fine chances for the hosts, Hughes’ side could not put Chelsea under any sustained pressure. The Blues have now won nine of their 11 games across all competitions this season, with league draws against West Ham and Liverpool the only blights on their record.
Hazard and Barkley shine for Blues
Few believed the Chelsea squad would be able to alter their style of play to match Sarri’s expectations when the Italian was appointed in July. But in simple terms, they have flourished. And ‘Sarriball’ was on show for all to see in the first 15 minutes at St Mary’s, as the Blues held 86% of possession.
Although Southampton did grow into the game after that opening spell, they could not keep Chelsea quiet for long. Hazard’s finish was typically clinical, but Barkley should also take plaudits for the opener, as it was the former Everton man who dispossessed Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg in midfield before playing a perfectly weighted pass to the Belgian.
That assist was Barkley’s first in the league since April 2017, and 12 minutes into the second half, he notched his first league goal since May 2017 by tapping in Giroud’s cross. Barkley, who was named in Gareth Southgate’s latest England squad on Thursday, was substituted on 81 minutes after a fine afternoon’s work, but Chelsea didn’t let up and they added a third deep into injury time.
Hazard again was at the heart of it as he slid in Morata, who dinked over McCarthy to score his second in as many games, after netting the winner in Thursday’s Europa League clash with Vidi. The international break has perhaps come at a bad time for Sarri and his team, given their form, but nonetheless, they will carry plenty of confidence into their next Premier League match against Manchester United on Saturday, 20 October.
Saints struggles continue
This defeat means Southampton have won just one league game at St Mary’s in 15 attempts, a run that extends back to November 2017. The returning Manolo Gabbiadini twice tested Chelsea goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga from range in the first half, though their best chance of the opening 45 minutes fell to Ings.
The summer signing from Liverpool has already netted three league goals for the Saints this term, but he was unable to add to that tally after 27 minutes when he volleyed Bertrand’s cross over from close range.
Southampton did threaten an equaliser following Barkley’s goal, and Chelsea had Arrizabalaga to thank for two fine saves in quick succession. The Spaniard first denied Nathan Redmond’s rasping effort from range, tipping it onto the bar, before diverting Ings’ powerful strike away from goal with a strong right hand.
Hughes’ side has now failed to beat a top-half opponent in their last 31 attempts, a run which runs back to April 2017. Meanwhile, Hughes’ own terrible run against the Blues continues. He has lost a record 19 Premier League games against Chelsea as a manager.
Man of the match – Eden Hazard
‘We showed them too much respect’ – what they said
Southampton manager Mark Hughes told BBC Match of the Day: “We showed Chelsea too much respect and allowed their players time and space. We needed to get closer, to force them back but we never did that.
“We had a chance at 0-0 for Danny Ings, if that goes in we get a different frame of mind. We never got any momentum. Sometimes you have to be brave and we weren’t able to do that.”
Chelsea’s Eden Hazard on Sky Sports: “We are enjoying playing well and scoring goals. The first half was not so easy, they missed big chances and then we have had a bit of luck for our first goal, but we controlled the match in the second half.
“I don’t know if I’ve played better [than I am at the minute], I’m just playing good football because we are playing good football. I want to keep doing it and keep everyone happy.”
Barkley emulates Lampard – the best stats
- Ross Barkley became the first Englishman to score and assist in a Premier League game for Chelsea since Frank Lampard in December 2013.
- Chelsea have won their last six Premier League games against Southampton, since losing 3-1 under Jose Mourinho in October 2015.
- This was the ninth home Premier League game since the start of last season that Southampton have failed to score in – only Huddersfield (12) have failed to score in more home Premier League games in that time.
- Eden Hazard has been involved in 11 goals in 15 appearances against Southampton for Chelsea in all competitions (six goals, five assists).
- Since Mark Hughes’ first Premier League match in charge of Southampton in March, the Saints have lost nine Premier League games – only Newcastle have lost more (10).
- Chelsea’s Eden Hazard scored and assisted in a Premier League game for the first time since October 2016 – which was also at St. Mary’s against Southampton.
- In the last three seasons, Southampton have taken just seven points from their 26 Premier League games against ‘big six’ opposition (P26 W0 D7 L19).
After the international break, Chelsea host Manchester United on Saturday, 20 October (12:30 BST), and Southampton travel to Bournemouth later that day (15:00 BST).
Source: BBC News