Chelsea entered into the top 4 and sit just one point behind Manchester City, Arsenal and Liverpool after they secured a 2-0 win at St. Mary’s with 22 points in 10 games. Chelsea were without captain John Terry as they stuck to the new Conte’s 3-4-3 formation with Hazard, Costa and Pedro leading the front line as Gary Cahill, David Luiz and Cesar Azpilicueta were the three men in defense. It was the same starting line-up that dismantled Manchester United last weekend.
The Blues found themselves in front after just 6 minutes when Eden Hazard cut back inside from the right onto his left foot and smashed the ball through Saint’s keeper Fraiser Forster to give Chelsea an early lead.
Southampton played some good football and were dominant for most of the game but were unable to muster a goal in front of a well-disciplined Chelsea team.
Hazard looked bright throughout the game as he forced Forster into another save with about 10 minutes to play. So did Diego Costa as he tried to beat Forster through his legs again but this time the English keeper was able to keep out the 28 year old striker.
Chelsea went into the break with a 1-0 lead and the second half began more or less the same way. Southampton keeping the ball for long periods but not able to penetrate enough to trouble Courtois.
Southampton found themselves two goals down when Diego Costa curled a superb shot past Forster as he bent the ball from outside the post into the far corner 10 minutes after the restart. A peach of a strike from the Brazilian born forward which made him top scorer of the league with eight goals, one better than Aguero.
Costa could have had a double but his finish was wayward when after Hazard crossed in a low ball after a patient build up.
Claude Paul’s Saint’s, who went five games without defeat in his previous league matches couldn’t make it six in a row as the Chelsea goal wasn’t really threatened. Charlie Austin missed an equalizing opportunity when he headed wide from a Davis’ free-kick. They also struck the post as Davis’ header looped onto the top of the crossbar.
In the latter stages, Chelsea were denied a third when Moses’ shot was saved by Forster. Southampton finally put the ball beyond Courtois but Austin was flagged for offside and rightly so when he lifted the ball beyond the Belgian.
The visitor’s managed to hold on, being well in shape at the back and constantly pressurizing the Southampton midfield and defense when in possession. This could be a statement to other major teams in terms of a title race on the cards.