Three things we learned from Southampton’s win vs. Chelsea

1 Comment

LONDON — Southampton stunned Chelsea 3-1 at Stamford Bridge on Saturday, as the Saints piled the pressure on Jose Mourinho with a famous win.

[ MORE: What next for Chelsea?

Willian‘s superb free kick gave Chelsea the lead, but Saints came roaring back as Steven Davis volleyed home before half time and then goals from Sadio Mane and Graziano Pelle stole the show.

[ MORE: Mourinho – “If they want to sack me… sack me” ]

Here’s three things we learned from an entertaining encounter at the Bridge, as Chelsea’s woe continues.

BRAVE SAINTS REWARDED

With John Terry back marshaling Chelsea’s defense after being left on the bench for four of the last five games, the thought was that the skipper could supply some stability to a leaky Chelsea backline. Wrong. Time and time again Southampton carved open Chelsea’s pedestrian defense, as Mane should have had a penalty in the first half after Branislav Ivanovic caught him, then Saints had two glorious chances at the start of the second half. Buoyed by Davis’ brilliant volley on the stroke of half time which brought them level, Mane ran at the heart of Chelsea’s defense on countless occasions as Pelle flicked balls on and the central defensive duo of Terry and Gary Cahill, who looked so untouchable for most of last season, didn’t know what to do.

Yes, Chelsea was bad at the back, but full credit must go to Southampton for forcing the issue as they secured a first win at Stamford Bridge since 2002. With the scores tied at 1-1 at half time, Koeman’s men could have sat back and settled for what they had. But, like many teams have found out this season, Chelsea’s solid defensive core which was the cornerstone of their title-winning season last year, has evaporated. Mane’s pace gave Terry and Cahill kittens, and there was only so many times Begovic could bail his defense out. He saved from Mane in the 48th minute when the Senegalese forward was clean through on goal, then Dusan Tadic turned Ivanovic inside out on numerous occasions and Mane then ripped Chelsea apart. First Dusan Tadic and Pelle forced Cahill into a mistake, as Mane raced cleared and scored Saints’ second. For their third he picked up the ball 10 yards inside his own half and ran at Chelsea’s ragged defense, slotting it wide to Pelle who rifled home the third. Manchester United tried to make a late bid for Mane in the last transfer window which Saints rejected. After this display, the lynch-pin of Saints’ fluid attacking unit will be have added a few more zeros to his value. Saints threatened to sneak into the top four last season but wobbled to finish seventh. The confidence they will gain from this win should reignite their season.

HOME FANS TURNING ON MOURINHO

With five defeats in their opening 11 games of the season in all competitions, the unthinkable has started to happen: the home fans have started to turn on Jose Mourinho. “The Special One” seemed certain to have a job for life at Chelsea following their title win last season. Now, with unrest on and off the field, things are unraveling quickly in west London as he even admitted earlier in the week that this was “his worst period” in management. Results have gone against him, sometimes that happens and Chelsea’s fans have stuck by him throughout the Eva Carneiro situation and everything else in-between. On Saturday however, the home fans booed his decisions as he replaced Willian with Pedro and then subbed off Nemanja Matic with 20 minutes to go, after he only brought the Serbian midfielder on at half time. Those theorists who predicted at the start of the season that Mourinho would endure the “third-season syndrome” at Chelsea and things would unravel — as he made enemies with players, staff and everyone else — were laughed at. Now, they’re looking pretty smart. After eight games of the PL season, Chelsea has lost four times and Mourinho, who had lost just once in the PL at home throughout his previous five seasons with the Blues has now lost to Crystal Palace and Southampton in the opening four home games of this campaign.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]  

The alarms bells are ringing at the Bridge and one fan summed it up perfectly when he walked past the press box in the dying stages of the game: “Rubbish. Rubbish. Rubbish. Just write that down, that’s what we are!” At this point in time, it’s hard to disagree with him as the champions are imploding and Mourinho is under more and more pressure with every demoralizing defeat.

HAZARD, FABREGAS, CAHILL HIGHLIGHT ISSUES

What are the reasons for Chelsea’s sensational drop-off this season? Simply put, many of their star players aren’t performing anywhere near their level. Cahill was spun all over the place by Mane and Pelle. Cesc Fabregas was bullied in midfield and couldn’t get hold of the ball. Eden Hazard hardly had a kick and had no support. Those were the most noticeable of the poor displays, but every Blues player, not for the first time this season, had an off day. Only goalkeeper Asmir Begovic could walk off the pitch with his head held high for the home side. There is no simple answer for Chelsea to try and turn this around. They are stuck in a rut and big changes need to occur if they’re going to get back among the top four. After eight games they are now seven points off the top four. For those saying: “Chelsea will come good, they will finish fourth at the worst.”

Really? Are you sure?

Daniel Levy calls for all players, clubs to cut wages

Daniel Levy Tottenham
Getty Images
Leave a comment

Tottenham chairman has called for Premier League players and staff to take wage cuts to help clubs cope with the suspension during the coronavirus pandemic.

Levy revealed 550 off-pitch staff at Tottenham have taken pay cuts as he pointed to the likes of Barcelona, Bayern Munich as their players and officials had taken wage cuts in order to make sure every individual at the club was paid and costs did not spiral out of control during the suspension of leagues.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule

Levy confirmed that the “club’s operations have effectively ceased” and “has an annual cost base running into hundreds of millions of pounds” before adding that clubs and players should do their part as clubs, leagues and players’ unions meet on Wednesday in England to work out a way forward.

“We hope the current discussions between the Premier League, PFA and LMA will result in players and coaches doing their bit for the football eco system,” Levy said.

Tottenham’s chairman also explained exactly what Spurs are doing to help them deal with the new financial reality all soccer clubs are facing, as the UK government is paying 80 percent of wages of staff who have been furloughed (basically told they still have a job but aren’t needed right now) by their employers.

“We have seen some of the biggest clubs in the world such as Barcelona, Bayern Munich and Juventus take steps to reduce their costs. Yesterday, having already taken steps to reduce costs, we ourselves made the difficult decision – in order to protect jobs – to reduce the remuneration of all 550 non-playing directors and employees for April and May by 20 per cent utilising, where appropriate, the Government’s furlough scheme. We shall continue to review this position,” Levy added.

Soccer will of course have to adjust to its new reality and the longer the suspension goes on, tougher decisions will have to be made about players and staff taking significant pay cuts to help keep costs down with no matchday revenue coming in. Tottenham’s stadium is being used to help prepare food for vulnerable people in the local and it has been offered to the NHS to be used any way it can help.

Plenty of clubs across the Premier League have vowed to pay temporary staff used on matchdays but many are making use of government help with wages and many are doing plenty for their local communities too. These are unprecedented times and players and clubs are stepping up to make sure the most vulnerable are looked after.

Benzema: ‘I’m F1’ quality compared to ‘go-kart’ Giroud

Photo by Stuart Franklin - FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images
Leave a comment

It would appear that Karim Benzema lives for exactly two things in life: scoring goals and creating/participating in very public drama.

[ MORE: Monday’s transfer rumor roundup | Friday | Thursday ]

Benzema, who hasn’t feature for France’s national team since he was allegedly involved in a scandal to blackmail teammate Mathieu Valbuena with a sex tape in 2015, slammed compatriot forward Olivier Giroud as the “go-karting” alternative to his own “F1” quality.

His main gripe with Giroud doesn’t appear to actually be with the player himself, but the fact the two get compared to one another so frequently. In Benzema’s absence from Les Bleus, Giroud has been the main beneficiary, leading many to wonder if the team could have reached greater heights with Benzmea in the team instead — quotes from Sky Sports:

“You shouldn’t confuse F1 and go karting and that’s me being kind. On to the next topic. I’m not talking about him [Giroud] anymore. I just know that I’m F1.

“He has his career, he does what he wants and scores the goals that he wants to score. He’s in his corner and I’m in mine, I’m not thinking about him. If we’re talking about playing style, his suits France well.

“It’s good because there are fast players like (Kylian) Mbappe and (Antoine) Griezmann who play out wide or feed off the centre-forward. When Giroud is up front, he’s a handful for defenses, which gives the other two plenty of space to show what they can do.

“He occupies defenders and it works. It might not be brilliant to watch and you won’t say, ‘Wow, that was incredible.’ Does everyone like that style of play? I don’t know, but it suits France well.”

Giroud: 39 goals (third-highest) in 97 appearances for France. Benzema: 27 goals in 81 appearances.

Guardiola: ‘We will come back stronger, kinder … and a bit fatter’

Photo by Matt McNulty - Manchester City/Manchester City FC via Getty Images
Leave a comment

Through all of the innumerable challenges and tragedies the world is currently facing during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola is doing his best to not only help the fight back in his native Spain, but also give everyone a chance to smile and laugh at their own expense.

[ MORE: Monday’s transfer rumor roundup | Friday | Thursday ]

Guardiola, who last week donated $1.1 million to fight the virus in Catalonia, released a video message of encouragement and hope on Monday — encouraging everyone to stay inside, and hopeful of returning to a sense of normalcy in short order:

“We miss football. We miss the life that we had a few days ago but now is the time to listen, to follow our scientists, doctors and nurses.

“You are my football family and we are going to do everything possible to make you feel better. We’ll come back from this stronger, better, kinder … and a little bit fatter. Stay inside, stay safe.”

Germany’s UCL clubs pledge support for cash-strapped clubs

Photo by Boris Streubel/Getty Images
Leave a comment

DUSSELDORF, Germany — Four German soccer clubs have pledged a combined $21.9 million to support other teams struggling to stay afloat after games in the country were suspended because of the coronavirus outbreak.

[ MORE: Monday’s transfer rumor roundup | Friday | Thursday ]

Bayern Munich, Borussia Dortmund, Leipzig and Bayer Leverkusen will forgo $13.7 million in as-yet undistributed TV money and add another $8.2 million from their own funds. All four clubs played in the Champions League this season, giving them extra income.

The German Football League, which oversees the top two divisions, will decide how the money is distributed. The league has previously said it fears many clubs could face financial collapse if games can’t resume.

“In these difficult times, it’s important that the stronger shoulders support the weaker shoulders,” Bayern CEO Karl-Heinz Rummenigge said on Thursday.

It’s the latest in a string of gestures to help those in need in German soccer. Players at clubs including Bayern, Borussia Monchengladbach and second-tier Karlsruhe have agreed to voluntary pay cuts to help other staff.

[ MORE: Tottenham offer stadium to help with coronavirus effort ]

Dortmund CEO Hans-Joachim Watzke said clubs had a responsibility to keep other teams running in what could be a long period without income from ticket sales and sponsors.

“We have always said that we would show solidarity if clubs, through no fault of their own, should run into difficulties that they can no longer overcome themselves,” Watzke said in a statement.

“BVB is currently having a major impact on society through a wide range of initiatives. And naturally we are prepared to help out other professional football clubs if it is ultimately a matter of cushioning the financial effects of the pandemic.”