Jose Mourinho has hailed the improving mentality of his Chelsea players and suggests the Premier League title favourites are maturing under his tutelage.
The Portuguese manager recently saw his side lose to both Basel and Newcastle and survive a narrow draw with West Brom to preserve his unbeaten domestic home record. However, he hinted at a sense of pride after the Blues overcame a terrible start to beat Southampton 3-1, per Sami Mokbel of the Daily Mail:
It's the sign of a team that's going step by step, understanding my ideas and mentality progressively.
And the ones that are not complete in my mentality or philosophy are adapting progressively, feeling the responsibility that Chelsea cannot be completely out of the title race in December.
They must feel the responsibility to play for Chelsea and that was a sign of maturity today.
Mourinho stood helpless as Chelsea threatened to be the cause of their own undoing at Stamford Bridge.
Fresh from his England debut, Jay Rodriguez intercepted a terrible Michael Essien pass to slot Mauricio Pochettino's men ahead after 13 seconds.
Although Southampton battled avidly during the first half, Mourinho's decision to sacrifice the hapless Essien for Demba Ba made a huge difference to the game's flow after the break.
Chelsea took control of the game. Players such as Juan Mata, Eden Hazard and Frank Lampard passed the ball quickly through midfield, giving the Saints little chance of maintaining pace with the speed of play.
Mourinho indicates he removed Essien due to his booking and seemed impressed with his team's ability to get the job done amidst difficult circumstances:
Losing a goal after 10 seconds, they kept calm.
Their goal was like a knife in our back. We were not waiting for that and, by surprise, we were losing 1-0. We were losing and we were not producing enough.
They like to play the ball from the back, build form the back, and playing with two strikers meant they couldn't play from behind.
Will Jose Mourinho suffer his first Premier League loss at home this season?
Mourinho will hope his side can continue improving across the next week, which sees Chelsea travel to Sunderland and Stoke for matches they are expected to win comfortably.
The maturity of Mourinho's younger players will certainly be put to the test when they visit the North East, the setting of their last Premier League defeat against the Magpies.
Should Chelsea grab six points in their next two games, they will continue exerting pressure on Arsenal at the top, who remain four points clear of their London rivals.