Southampton vs. Chelsea: 6 Things We Learned
Jose Mourinho's second-half substitutions turned out to be the defining moment of the game, as the Brazilian duo of Oscar and Willian gave Chelsea the edge they needed to secure three vital points.
All statistics are via whoscored.com.
Goals from the Strikers Make All the Difference
It's still too early to say, but it looks like Chelsea's goal drought from their strikers has come to an end. Samuel Eto'o's winner against Liverpool gave the rest of the team the drive to seal the victory, and Fernando Torres' opener against Southampton did the same.
Neither goal was beautiful, but the instinct to get the ball over the line by whatever means necessary certainly bodes well for the rest of the Blues' season.
There Is a New Amigo in Town
Juan Mata returned to the starting XI on the south coast today, much to the delight of the Chelsea supporters. However, his time was cut short after 53 minutes when Willian replaced him as part of a double substitution.
Mata may have been voted as Chelsea's Player of the Year for two consecutive seasons, but it is clear that Mourinho prefers the Brazilian on the right flank. Willian's impact from the bench was instant and when combined with his fine performance against Liverpool, it looks likely that he will take Mata's place in the Three Amigos permanently.
Chelsea Are Improving Their Chance Conversion Rate
Jose Mourinho has been frustrated by Chelsea's failure to convert chances into goals in several games this season. However, against Southampton the Blues scored three goals from five shots on target, having scored twice from the same number of shots against Liverpool.
This consistent improvement in their chance conversion will help them keep in touching distance of the title as the business end of the season approaches, while also allowing Mourinho to sleep a little better at night.
Southamton Need to Start Winning Soon
After a promising start to the season that saw them being tipped as dark horses for the Premier League title, Southampton have begun to slip down the table. Their last home victory came at the beginning of November 2013 against Hull City, and although they have held Manchester City to a draw and picked up three points at Cardiff City, they need to get back to winning ways soon if they are to avoid sliding further towards the relegation zone.
Ashley Cole Still Has a Future at Chelsea
Ashley Cole lived up to his reputation of always appearing in the right place at the right time against Southampton. His first-half block from Gaston Ramirez kept Chelsea in the game, and he made four tackles and two clearances in his first start since the Blues' defeat to Newcastle United.
There have been a host of rumours surrounding the England star's future, but it looks like Mourinho was right again when he told The Independent back in December that the 33-year-old would earn an extension to his soon-to-expire contract.
Jose Mourinho Will Make the Difference in the Premier League Title Race
Chelsea fans have been clamouring for Jose Mourinho to return to Stamford Bridge ever since his abrupt departure back in 2007. He has the tactical know-how to change a game in an instant, and the ego to keep the pressure from the press focused on him.
His substitutions against Southampton paid off massively, as they have done in virtually every match this season, and with just two points separating the top three sides, The Special One could provide the crucial difference at the crunch end of the season.