Saturday, November 27

Mount penalty wins Chelsea draw at Southampton after Minamino’s first game | Premier league


Thomas Tuchel completed phase one of his mission at Chelsea faster than anyone would have expected. His new team was 10th in the Premier League on the day of their first game, against Wolves on January 27, but when they beat Newcastle last Monday, they had moved up to fourth place.

Phase two is staying in the Champions League places and it got off to a rocky start. This was the first misstep of Tuchel’s tenure, a largely sterile performance of dominance, devoid of attacking blows, with few clear opportunities created and undermined by slack.

Tuchel owed the continuation of his undefeated start to a Mason Mount penalty in the second half, which disallowed a wonderful opening goal from Southampton Liverpool loan Takumi Minamino. But it was a day when Chelsea’s regret weighed heavily and Tuchel’s frustration was rarely far from the surface.

Southampton could hold a performance that was defined by endurance. After six consecutive league losses, the worst sequence in club history, they lost another lead. Statistics show that they have given up an 18-point competition from winning positions. This, however, was much more like them.

Tuchel had made changes to his lineup, giving first league starts to Kurt Zouma and N’Golo Kanté, and his team was squeezed high at all times, trying to advance through flank overloads or with test balls behind. the defense of Southampton.

It was difficult to go through extended periods, the end product repeatedly poor, prompting Tuchel to turn on his heel in frustration and throw his arms around. One thing is clear in these empty stadiums where the screams from the benches come: Tuchel is not afraid to dig up his players.

Many of them heard criticism from him, with Mount and Timo Werner taking the brunt in the first half hour when his decision-making and execution fell short, while Callum Hudson-Odoi, as a halftime substitute, was shot by him at one point before being removed in 76 minutes. “Guys, you need more determination in the area,” shouted Tuchel, already in the 14th minute.

Takumi Minamino opens the scoring
Takumi Minamino opens the scoring. Photograph: Neil Hall / EPA

Southampton were compact in their usual 4-2-2-2 system, in which Mohammed Salisu made an impressive full Premier League debut as a central defender; tracking Chelsea runners, launching into challenges. They barely crossed the midline in the first half but, when they did, it was a move to remember, particularly for Minamino.

Japan’s attacking midfielder timed his run between César Azpilicueta and Zouma, the space widening open and he was found by a good pass from Nathan Redmond. What happened next was all about Minamino’s composure and touch. He didn’t rush to go toe-to-toe with Eduoard Mendy, rather he feinted when everyone expected him to shoot, putting Mendy and the chaser Azpilicueta on the ground, before tapping the outside of his boot. It was the first time that an opposition player had scored against Tuchel’s team.

Chelsea was forceful before the break. Marcos Alonso shot off a Reece James cross in the sixth minute, while Zouma worked Alex McCarthy with a header from a Mount corner.

Tuchel traded in the ineffective Tammy Abraham for Hudson-Odoi and slightly changed the balance of his three forwards, and Mount is now being asked to operate in a retired center-role.

Mount was excellent in the second half and made the difference for the tie, although Danny Ings’ participation in it was equally decisive. After Mount got inside, Ings lunged awkwardly and it was a clear penalty. Mount sent McCarthy backwards.

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The second half mirrored the first in many ways. Chelsea tried to make the game, although they were undermined by careless finishing actions. Southampton attacked hard, but were on the verge of stealing the lead after a corner, which had been unnecessarily yielded by Mateo Kovacic. Redmond crossed in the second phase and, after the ball bounced off James, Jannik Vestergaard led a header against the crossbar.

Chelsea’s chance to win it came in the 85th minute when Mount crossed for James, but lifted high. For the last time, Tuchel howled in frustration.


www.theguardian.com

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