A game with all sorts of twists and turns where Chelsea emerged victorious. The Blues dominated the majority of the match in terms of possession and shots. However, a VAR call, a mistake by Ben Chillwell that resulted in the penalty and a superhuman performance by the Southampton keeper prevented the Blues from finishing the match off early on. Nevertheless, we learnt a lot during this contest as it was not a perfect one. However, it was extremely entertaining throughout.
Here are three lessons learnt in Chelsea’s thrilling win over Saints:
1. Thomas Tuchel is a tactical master
Thomas Tuchel called upon the right line-up and made excellent changes at the right time during the fixture. From the moment the line-up was named, the starting XI looked interesting.
Trevoh Chalobah was the center of attention as he played as a defensive midfielder and then switched to centerback midweek.
Further, Cesar Azpilicueta played as the main outlet on the wing and his advanced position allowed him to send crosses inside the box.
Lastly, Blues fans were finally treated to the duo of Romelu Lukaku and Timo Werner up top together with Callum Hudson-Odoi.
Even after Southampton scored and went down one player, any other manager would have brought on all
remainder forwards or wingers from the bench. However, Tuchel brought on Mason Mount, Jorginho and, to everyone’s surprise, Ross Barkley.
These changes made all the difference in exploiting the Saint’s one-man disadvantage.
Once Mount came on, the complexity of the game changed.
Mount ran in behind the defenders very often and provided a vertical and direct approach that Chelsea was missing beforehand.
Meanwhile, the addition to Jorginho allowed the Blues to keep the ball in areas the team was struggling previously.
However, the best change was Barkley as the Englishman made direct passes into the box and open areas from the moment he came on.
Although not a lot of people would have opted to have other players on the field, Tuchel took a chance and it paid off.
Changes like the ones made on Saturday are what makes a winning team.
Too often, managers fall under pressure and make judgement calls that seemingly good on paper.
Tuchel makes the ones that make sense based on what the team needs to win, regardless of the popular opinion.
Saturday’s win may have been against a 10-man Southampton, but without the necessary substitutions, Chelsea would have settled for a draw.
2. Cesar Azpilicueta is the best wingback a centerback can be
The Blues’ skipper is rolling back the years with his performances as a right wingback.
If one would have told supporters three years ago that Azpilicueta could be exceeding in the position today, many would have laughed, but here we are.
The Chelsea captain was nothing short of excellent in the wingback role against Saints.
Not only did he defend against numerous counter attacks, but also provided many dangerous crosses into the box.
Versatility has always been a strong trait of Azpilicueta’s. However, to be playing in such demanding role is noteworthy, especially at his age.
The captain found the right space once the changes were made to provide service to the strikers.
In the end, it was a wonderful first-time pass across the box that got him the assist.
Surely, at times, there are downsides to him playing in said position.
However, he is as reliable as ever and it is clear he still has some years left to excel in the starting XI.
3. Chelsea needs more from Romelu Lukaku
The one concerning thing about the game was Lukaku’s lack of involvement.
This was almost to no fault of his own. The Belgian international followed the game plan to the letter, but not everything came off for him.
Tuchel needs to find a way to get the striker more involved in the game; especially if he is to partner with Werner going forward.
Lukaku hardly had a touch of the ball and, needless to say, many shots on target.
To be fair to him, the Southampton defense had a compact game plan to stop him.
However, it is up to the manager to get around these tactics and utilize the player’s attributes to benefit the team.
The bottom line is, Chelsea needs Lukaku scoring goals. He is everything the team was missing from last last year. Now, it is time to put his skills and his goal-scoring abilities to effective and efficient use.