Chelsea managed a frustrating 0-0 draw against Southampton during their first league game of the New Year. The Blues had come into the clash with a two-point advantage over Arsenal for the final Champions League qualification place but they were able to extend the gap by only the solitary point after struggling in the final third of the pitch.
Eden Hazard was twice denied from finding the breakthrough by league debutant Angus Gunn while Alvaro Morata’s goal was chalked off after he was caught by the offside trap by the slimmest of margins. Southampton, on the other hand, continued their upheaval in form under new boss Ralph Hasenhuttl and the point sees them within two points off relegation safety.
Two things we learned:
Chelsea’s attack front becoming a concern: The Blues had been hampered by injuries to Pedro, Olivier Giroud and Callum Hudson-Odoi going into the game and they were not helped by the fact that Willian was hauled off the pitch with a knock before half time. Due to this, the Blues found themselves depending on Hazard once more to deliver the goods and his failure to find the scoresheet partly contributed to a goalless draw, which should provide Arsenal and Manchester United with the impetus to push for the fourth position. Meanwhile, in Giroud’s absence, Morata was tasked with the duties of leading the line but the Spaniard was once more frustrating after he squandered a couple of excellent chances including one where he was caught offside by the most minute of margins.
Southampton produce an impressive away performance: The Saints have been defensively vulnerable over the course of the season and this trend continued under Hasenhuttl with no shut outs in the first five league games under his tutelage. However, the South Coast outfit managed to provide a strong shift at the Bridge where they restricted the Blues to just six shots on target while making a number of timely clearances within the box including one from Yan Valery to deny Morata a clear shot on goal. Moreover, they had a goalkeeper in sparkling form in Angus Gunn, who despite making his Premier League debut looked assured between the sticks and made the difference with two impressive saves to deny Hazard in either half.
Image – Getty