Despite what the media and armchair pundits may have thought, the match against Southampton was always going to be difficult, especially as it was at Southampton`s ground. Most of the established top teams have commented how good a side are Southampton this season and Everton manager David Moyes even went as far as to say that they were the best team to visit Goodison Park this season.
Of course, that is high praise, but you would have thought that if Chelsea has any realistic plans on achieving a top four finish and consequently a Champions League place, they would expect to be winning these types of game. However, with the FA Cup replay against Manchester United looming on Monday, Chelsea manager, Rafael Benitez decided to leave a couple of players out and save them for the FA Cup game. Even so, they should have done a lot better today.
Things started badly for Chelsea with a rampant Southampton scoring first in the first half of the game, with Rodriguiez taking his chance superbly. John Terry seems to have fallen down the pecking order with Benitez and was brought back for this game, as he will almost certainly miss the FA Cup match on Monday. It was terry who scored a header late in the first half to give Chelsea fans hope.
Unfortunately for Chelsea, the game was settled by an outstanding effort by Ricky Lambert, Southampton`s top scorer with the winning goal on 35 minutes. The second half saw Southampton continue to dominate, but they could not add to their tally. Chelsea looked a ramshackle outfit and were deservedly beaten at full time.
It hardly bodes well for Chelsea`s FA Cup replay with Manchester United on Monday and Benitez will have to raise the morale of his troops if they are to progress to the semi-finals.