Wednesday 16 October 2019

Transfer ban doing little to trouble Chelsea as Abraham shines again

Southampton 1 Chelsea 4

On form: Tammy Abraham scored Chelsea’s first goal, and his eighth of the season, in yesterday’s defeat of Southampton. Photo: David Klein/Reuters
On form: Tammy Abraham scored Chelsea’s first goal, and his eighth of the season, in yesterday’s defeat of Southampton. Photo: David Klein/Reuters

Matt Law

Chelsea supporters must be hoping this transfer ban never ends. Nobody would have believed it could have been the best thing that happened to the club in years, but Chelsea have fast become the feel-good story of the season.

It is also benefiting England, as two of Chelsea's Three Lions quartet, Tammy Abraham and Mason Mount, were once again on target to underline their huge potential for club and country.

Abraham's week just about sums up how the fortunes of the youth brigade has changed since the club were stopped from throwing money at their problems.

Having celebrated his 22nd birthday, scored his first Champions League goal and earned an England call-up, Abraham found the net with a superb lob to put Chelsea on the way to victory at St Mary's yesterday.

Abraham now has eight Premier League goals and nine in total this season, and head coach Frank Lampard pointed out the fact he has preferred him to Michy Batshuayi and Olivier Giroud, regardless of the transfer ban.

"I trusted in Tammy at the start of the season," said Lampard. "I felt it was his time to come back to Chelsea.

Chelsea manager Frank Lampard celebrates victory. Photo: John Walton/PA Wire
Chelsea manager Frank Lampard celebrates victory. Photo: John Walton/PA Wire

Purchase

"I know people point to the circumstances, but he has Olly Giroud (behind him) - a World Cup winner. And Batshuayi, who is a great Premier League striker too, in my opinion.

"Tammy's goal was incredible to get the purchase and the contact on the ball. It's confidence. When people are in good form, things happen for them. And that comes from how Tammy has handled himself all season, from the early moments when people were questioning him.

"He's not just a handful for defenders, he has good feet, holds up the ball well. He is also getting goals, which is brilliant for him."

Southampton's Danny Ings (left) and Chelsea's Mason Mount battle for the ball. Photo: John Walton/PA Wire
Southampton's Danny Ings (left) and Chelsea's Mason Mount battle for the ball. Photo: John Walton/PA Wire

Callum Hudson-Odoi started his first league game since rupturing his Achilles last season ahead of £58m signing Christian Pulisic, and the teenager was responsible for setting up Abraham.

It was Hudson-Odoi's superb pass over the top that had Abraham scampering towards goal and the striker managed to get one of his long legs to the ball ahead of Angus Gunn and loop it towards goal. Maya Yoshida thought he had acrobatically cleared the ball, only for referee Paul Tierney to confirm it had crossed the line.

Mount is now keeping out Mateo Kovacic and Ross Barkley, and the boyhood Portsmouth fan clearly enjoyed scoring against their south coast rivals to double Chelsea's lead in the 24th minute.

Willian made the most of Jan Bednarek's terrible header and played in Mount, who finished clinically past Gunn before cupping his ears in celebration at the Southampton supporters.

Chelsea's N'Golo Kante scores their third goal. Photo: Tony O'Brien/Action Images via Reuters
Chelsea's N'Golo Kante scores their third goal. Photo: Tony O'Brien/Action Images via Reuters

Mount could have killed the contest when Abraham gave him a shooting chance from inside the penalty area, but the midfielder pulled his effort wide and Chelsea briefly let the hosts back in.

Lampard will have no doubt noted that Mount was one of the Chelsea players who allowed Yan Valery to wriggle his way down the right before producing a low cross that Danny Ings got to in front of Kurt Zouma. Nathan Redmond quickly hit the side-netting, before N'Golo Kante restored the visitors' two-goal advantage with a 20-yard shot that took a deflection off Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg.

Central defender Fikayo Tomori was handed his first England call, to join Abraham, Mount and Barkley in Gareth Southgate's squad, and the former Derby County loanee survived a couple of nervy moments.

Tomori settled back down in the second half and helped Chelsea ease towards another three points, much to the annoyance of Southampton manager Ralph Hassenhuttl, who heard his team booed off at full-time.

"You can lose against a strong side, and that's OK, but what I was really disappointed with were the mistakes we made in the first half," said Hassenhuttl. "If you invite them to score, then you don't have to wonder if they do it.

"We must be really, really honest and true to ourselves otherwise you lie to yourself and say you have played better than you have and at the moment we are not better."

Hudson-Odoi could have made it a hat-trick of academy graduate goals straight after the restart, but the winger's angled shot was too close to Gunn, following more good work from Willian.

There was another Chelsea goal to come, though, as substitutes Pulisic and Batshuayi combined for the Belgian to net his team's late fourth after replacing Abraham.

The only negative for Lampard was a section of Chelsea fans once again using discriminatory language against the traveller community in a song about him.

Lampard said: "I will always back the Chelsea fans in terms of how they support us, but we don't want to have chants and stuff that is discriminatory to anyone."

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