Thursday 21 November 2019

Mourinho suffers more frustration in Saints stalemate

Chelsea 1 Southampton 1

Chelsea's Brazilian midfielder Willian (L) vies with Southampton's Kenyan midfielder Victor Wanyama
Chelsea's Brazilian midfielder Willian (L) vies with Southampton's Kenyan midfielder Victor Wanyama
Chelsea's Spanish defender Cesar Azpilicueta (front) vies with Southampton's Kenyan midfielder Victor Wanyama
Chelsea's Brazilian-born Spanish striker Diego Costa (L) vies with Southampton's French midfielder Morgan Schneiderlin (R)
Chelsea's Brazilian midfielder Ramires (L) vies with Southampton's Irish striker Shane Long
Chelsea's Spanish defender Cesar Azpilicueta (front) vies with Southampton's Senegalese midfielder Sadio Mane
Southampton's Serbian midfielder Dusan Tadic (R) scores a penalty past Chelsea's Belgian goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois
Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho reacts during the Premier League match between Chelsea and Southampton at Stamford Bridge

Sam Wallace

Asked afterwards about a penalty that was denied Branislav Ivanovic in the first half, Jose Mourinho turned to his press officer in the post-match briefing and muttered with his usual stage whisper "You will have to control me" before declining to elaborate on his feelings.

The Chelsea manager has been busy fighting the world last week but this time he just looked battle-weary.

There was another token dig at the Sky Sports pundit Graeme Souness but it was not delivered with the usual assassin's cold-bloodedness that Mourinho ordinarily summons for his adversaries.

If anything he looked as tired with the whole thing as his team had done at times in the first half against Southampton.

With Manchester City's defeat at Burnley, it has been a profitable weekend for Chelsea but the lingering feeling is that it could have been a great one for the club who lead the Premier League by six points with a game in hand over their nearest faltering rival.

With the top two faltering, do Arsenal, seven points behind Chelsea, really have a chance of joining the party? Mourinho did not deny that they might but he was careful to add an extra jibe for good measure when asked about Arsène Wenger's team's "momentum" from Saturday's win over West Ham.

"Which momentum?" he shot back. "Three-one against Monaco or 3-0 against West Ham? It depends on the momentum."

Mourinho was right in suggesting that Ivanovic might have had a penalty on 23 minutes when Dusan Tadic appeared to catch his compatriot's heel in the box.

Nevertheless, Nemanja Matic should have been sent off for a second yellow card for a foul on Sadio Mané in the second half, with Southampton's Senegal international leading Chelsea's defence a merry dance all day.

Ronald Koeman selected Shane Long ahead of Graziano Pellè and picked Mané behind the Irish striker, giving his team the kind of pace that John Terry and Gary Cahill struggled to handle at times.

Koeman acknowledged that, to get a result at Stamford Bridge, one required luck as well as a great goalkeeping performance. In Fraser Forster, the Southampton manager certainly had just that and one sequence of saves had goalkeeping coach Dave Watson off his bench and celebrating as if the team had scored the winner.

Chelsea began the game as if they were determined to make amends for last Wednesday night with immediate effect, but the good spell lasted about as long as it took for the unmarked Diego Costa to score with a heat header from Ivanovic's cross.

The equaliser came from the penalty spot after Mané cut down the left channel and into the area.

Ivanovic tackled from behind, Matic from the side. It looked like the first contact might have been from Ivanovic while Matic's intervention seemed to come as Mané was on his way down.

Either way it was Matic who referee Mike Dean identified as responsible, booking him for the challenge.

Tadic waited for Thibaut Courtois to dive before dispatching the penalty down the centre of the goal and after that Southampton had their best period of the game.

Chelsea went off at the end of the first half to worried glances and a hushed concern in the stands.


The second half did not begin much better when Ivanovic took a throw-in and presented the ball to Mané, who had to be stopped by a crude foul from Matic.

It should been the second yellow card of the Serb midfielder's game - and imagine the uproar that would have brought - but Dean decided against it.

Mourinho replaced Matic with Ramires on 53 minutes, some acknowledgement that his midfielder was sailing close to the wind.

Chelsea clicked into gear and finally found the intensity they had been missing. Costa hit the woodwork but still the breakthrough did not come.

Forster saved from Fabregas, Hazard and then Oscar before Mourinho threw on Loic Remy and Juan Cuadrado, but still no goal came.

The Saints goalkeeper then denied Cesar Azpilicueta and then, from the resulting corner, stopped shots from Costa and Terry.

Another 10 minutes and Chelsea might have got their winner, but not for the first time in the last four days, they ran out of time.

(© Independent News Service)

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