Southampton greatly frustrated Chelsea on Wednesday with a combination of a high press and a low block, depending on where the ball was. While the former resulted in a few chances on the counter, the latter proved highly effective against the Blues’ passing game.
Manager Maurizio Sarri’s lack of a Plan B is fast becoming a serious problem for Chelsea. This wasn’t the first time a defence has locked down the Blues completely, and the hosts had no idea how to respond.
They resorted to David Luiz pumping long balls into the box, which was easy for Saints to defend. Southampton have one of the worst defensive records in the league―it never should have been this easy for them.
Sarri’s intricate system takes time to implement but after half a season, this Blues team doesn’t look any better than it did at this stage last year. Per sportswriter Matt Law the stats show Antonio Conte’s side was at least as good, and arguably less talented:
My point is that I think Conte has been unfairly trashed by some since leaving Chelsea. He’s an outstanding coach and in many ways over achieved.
— Matt Law (@Matt_Law_DT) December 23, 2018
https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.jsConte’s Chelsea collapsed in the second half of the season, leading to a fifth-place finish. Sarri’s Blues are in slightly better shape, but it’s worth noting Manchester United are greatly improved under interim boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and quickly closing the gap to Chelsea and Arsenal.
It’s too early to panic, but right now this Chelsea team isn’t an improvement on last year.