Chelsea continued their rise up the Premier League table as they came from behind to see off in-form Southampton at St Mary’s on Saturday. Cesc Fabregas and Branislav Ivanovic struck for the visitors after Shane Long’s opener for the home side, moving the Blues close to the top half of the table. The Pensioners have now finally won back to back league games this season, a feat that somehow managed to elude them up until now.
Guus Hiddink named an unchanged side, as he looked to keep up the momentum built by his team in recent weeks. His plans were torn apart pretty quickly, as Pedro was forced off with injury after just seven minutes. The Dutchman kept faith with his makeshift back four, as Ivanovic held on to the captain’s armband.
Southampton went into this game in fantastic form, as they pushed for a top six place. They put together a run based on a fantastic defence, and they dominated early on here. The makeshift defence that did so well in Paris couldn’t cope here, with Abdul Baba Rahman disappointing at left back.
In fact, it was Baba who ended up at fault for the Southampton opener. It was his error that let in Long, and his chipped finish gave the Saints the lead at half time. The young full back was taken off after that, replaced by Kenedy. Given that Fraser Forster hadn’t conceded a goal since March of last year, Chelsea needed a massive 45 minutes to get themselves ahead here.
The last man to score past Forster was Diego Costa, and he came close to finding the net in the second half. He sent a volley just wide, when he really should have done better. The champions took control of the match in the second half, as they penned Southampton back in their own half.
As the Saints tried to hold on, the Blues got a much needed slice of luck to get back on level terms. Having stopped shots all day, Forster was eventually beaten by a cross from Fabregas. His ball in evaded everyone, and it went straight into the net to level the game. After a long period of pressure, it was more than the visitors deserved.
The two meetings between these sides last term finished level, and this one looked to be heading the same way. A draw here wouldn’t have been the worst result for the Blues, but they really needed to finally win back to back games. As the minutes ticked on, the Blues finally got the winner they needed, as Ivanovic headed in with just a minute of normal time remaining.
It was a fantastic win for Hiddink and his men, but they’re not yet in the top half. They do have a chance of a decent finish, if they can keep up this momentum. Indeed, they might just salvage something from what looked to be a train wreck of a league campaign.
LCN Man of the Match: Branislav Ivanovic