October 5, 2023


Chelsea put their recent blues behind them as they smash SIX past Southampton with Mason Mount and Timo Werner grabbing two goals apiece to help them bounce back from Real Madrid defeat

No bingeing on chocolate late into the night. No tortured re-runs and raised voices. Goodness, Thomas Tuchel looked like he had a fun day at work for the first time in a little while.

And it was. Six goals. Could have been 12. Should have been nine. But after the week Chelsea have had, and in fact longer with all their other business, that will do nicely.

It was easy. It was soothing. It was a barrel of goals shared widely – Marcos Alonso and Kai Havertz had one each. Mason Mount got a couple. So did Timo Werner, that butt of a few jokes who also put two shots against opposite posts and one on the bar of the same frame. He was excellent, better than all bar Mount.
Then there was Ruben Loftus-Cheek. He had a start, an assist and a role in another. Edouard Mendy faced one shot and saved it. The back three delivered a clean sheet. Smiles all over the place. Granted, it was merely a calm before the storm of Real Madrid on Tuesday, and that amid the greater troubles of their ownership situation, but sometimes a good walk helps.
Was it more than that? Probably not, because how do you measure a battering when it’s against Southampton? Good manager and solid enough team, Southampton. But not so much at the moment – this was their fourth league defeat in five and there is a certain cosiness about their spot in the table, not to mention a recurring vulnerability to the sort of walloping that sticks in the mind.

Remember Leicester at home in October 2019 and Manchester United away in February 2021? Two games and an 18-0 aggregate. For a decent time, this game was shaping into an echo of that pattern – it was 4-0 after 31 minutes and six through 54.

Even Ralph Hasenhuttl seemed to lose interest in yelling during the second half, though by then Tuchel was swapping off a few players and going easy. Had he not, this defeat could have entered the record books. Six will have to do. Six will still do wonders for the collective mood.

With it Tuchel allowed himself a broad grin just a day after admitting he had roasted this squad for their damaging 4-1 and 3-1 losses against Brentford and Real Madrid, the latter of which effectively killed their Champions League campaign. That loss against Real had also led him to a night spent gorging on chocolate and torturing himself with replays, so needless to say, he was a happier man by Saturday evening.

Reflecting on three such disparate performances and results, he said: ‘I think it tells us that we are not the team to escape with results if our input is at 90, 80 per cent of energy, commitment and investment.

‘We are a special group when we have the priorities right. If we have the priorities clear this is our foundation to show the quality.’

Tuchel was particularly pleased with Werner, whose Chelsea career has never looked entirely convincing. ‘Everything was there for him to deliver and to make a statement and to show he’s still an important player of this group and that’s exactly what he did,’ he said.

Werner’s inclusion was among four changes made to the side crushed by Real in midweek, along with Alonso, Mateo Kovacic and Loftus-Cheek. Reece James, Jorginho and Christian Pulisic were all put on the bench and César Azpilicueta tested positive for Covid, while the absence of Romelu Lukaku was attributed to his Achilles injury. The shake-up worked a treat.

For an idea of how this rout played out, consider that before the goals went in Werner had hit the post and bar either side of Havertz skying over when through. Those chances all took place in the opening six minutes.

From there, it was a more tangible kicking. Alonso got the first with a good hit across Fraser Forster from a fine Mount assist. Mount got the second with a sweet drive from outside the area before Werner finally got a goal at his fourth attempt. James Ward-Prowse had been at fault with a botched headed backpass, but the run from Werner, the strength with which he held off Jan Bednarek, and the rounding of Forster were special.

At 3-0, Werner then hit the woodwork again, this time after a delightful skip through three challenges. The rebound off the post fell for Havertz who drilled the fourth. Hasenhuttl was livid.

Forster saved twice more from Havertz and Loftus-Cheek before Werner tapped in for five four minutes after half-time.

A full 52 minutes had been played before Mendy blocked from Che Adams –Southampton’s first shot on goal – and a moment later Mount made it 6-0 and a pitch invader from the Chelsea end came on for a selfie. He got far closer to Mount than anyone in red.

‘We fell back into behaviour I thought was gone,’ said Ralph Hasenhuttl. ‘It seems we need one game like this every season. It is very hard to take.’


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