In a matchup of two of England’s top teams this season, Chelsea traveled to Southampton today in a key matchup for both teams. Chelsea can’t help but notice an in-form Manchester City creeping ever closer in the league table, as the Blues entered today’s game holding just a three point lead over their closest competition for the top spot. Southampton had been struggling of late, but consecutive defeats of Everton last weekend and Crystal Palace on Friday have them back in fourth place (and with it, a spot in the Champions League).
The first half was everything fans could have hoped for, with both teams showing off the technical ability that has made them two of the Premier League’s best this season. Southampton had the better of the play, and were rewarded in the 17th minute when Sadio Mane latched on to a delightful flick by Dusan Tadic and flipped it over onrushing Chelsea goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois:
While Chelsea were only able to get one shot on target in the first 45 minutes, they certainly made it count. Eden Hazard—who has emerged as one of the Premier League’s best players this season—chased down a ball from Cesc Fabregas, cut inside to beat two defenders, and confidently finished past goalkeeper Fraser Forster for his 10th goal of the season:
The second half was much like the first, with neither team was able to conjure much in the way of a truly dangerous attack. Chelsea certainly looked the more dangerous of the two teams, and in the 88th minute went up a man after Southampton’s Morgan Schneiderlin earned a second yellow card, beginning his walk of shame before the cards had even been produced:
While the 1-1 draw was a fair result, it leaves both teams in a worse position than when the game began. If the rest of the current results hold Chelsea will be just one point clear of City atop the league table, with a matchup at Stamford Bridge at the end of January looming. Southampton will remain in fourth with 33 points on the season, but will have a lot of competition as Arsenal (33 points), West Ham (31 points), Tottenham (31 points), and possibly Swansea (28 points with a game tomorrow) all nipping at their heels.
It’s now exactly halfway through the Premier League season, and while the top teams have been established there is still clearly much to be decided.
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