Football Features

“An afternoon of redemption” as Chelsea ride out the tough times to beat 10-man Southampton 3-1

By Muhammad Butt

Published: 17:16, 2 October 2021

On a rain-sodden afternoon of football, Chelsea overcame 10-man Southampton to win at Stamford Bridge thanks to an afternoon of redemption.

There have been Chelsea players who have either not played or barely played this season for whatever reasons, and although they suffered during the game in the end it was these outcasts who burst to life and delivered sweet redemption for the Blues.

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After two straight defeats, Chelsea were in no mood to drop more points at home to Saints. And when they took the lead through Trevoh Chalobah after a nice flick-on from a Ben Chilwell corner from Ruben Loftus-Cheek, it looked like they’d get back to winning ways with ease. And while they did get there in the end, their route was more circuitous than expected.

For starters, Chelsea’s goal only seemed to annoy Southampton and Ralph Hasenhuttl’s men began playing with much more verve and purpose. With no N’Golo Kanté or Jorginho in midfield, the Saints found more room than usual ahead of the Chelsea defence and were repeatedly making penetrative runs.

Secondly, when Chelsea did exert their authority and score further goals – which they did twice – VAR intervened to correctly rule the goals out. First for a foul in the build-up, the for an offside. The lead stayed at 1-0 until an excellent bit of play from Tino Livramento suckered Ben Chilwell into a shocking tackle. Penalty Saints, and obviously James Ward-Prowse is automatic from the spot.

Suddenly it looked like Saints might even win the game, but then a reverse redemption from Ward-Prowse changed everything. The midfielder lunged at sub Jorginho and connected… with his ankle. It was a horrible challenge and VAR upgraded the yellow card to red.

This cued the redemptions.

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Chelsea’s go-ahead goal saw three players redeemed in one goal. First we have Ross Barkley, yes Ross Barkley, who came off the bench in a move that reeked of desperation. In the pouring rain, Thomas Tuchel turned to the talented outcast for help, and boy did he get it.

With just his second touch, Barkley launched a stunning, scything diagonal pass in behind the Southampton defence. The kind of miraculous pass that he has always been capable of but never really delivered. Well this time he did, picking out Cesar Azpilicueta perfectly.

Azpilicueta, whose foul saw Timo Werner’s goal disallowed in the first-half, repayed his debt to the German but sending a beautiful cross into the box for Werner to arrive and smash home. Werner had actually played well in this game, but his miserable form so far in a Chelsea shirt means he’s always in need of redeeming; this was just his first goal of the Premier League season.

There was time for one final redemption: Ben Chilwell. The man who gave away the penalty. Another cross from the right saw Romelu Lukaku inexplicably hit the post, and on the follow-up Cesar Azpilicueta did the same. The ball flew out to Chilwell who didn’t hesitate to execute a picture-perfect volley back at goal, only for Alex McCarthy to claw the ball out with a save.

Except that save was not done in time. Goal-line technology flashed positive and the referee awarded the goal. 3-1 Chelsea! A redemptive win for the Blues that was packed full of individual redemptions for their struggling players, and was even a redemption for Tuchel, who after two straight defeats turned a game with his subs and sent his side to the top of the league.

The perfect way to head into the international break.