Three things we learned from Chelsea’s win at Southampton

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SOUTHAMPTON — Chelsea beat Southampton 2-0 at St Mary’s on Sunday as Antonio Conte‘s side underlined their Premier League title credentials.

In a game which saw Southampton dominate possession but Chelsea look much more dangerous, it was a deserved win for the west London club as they sit one-point off to spot with 10 games of the season gone.

Here’s what we learned from a commanding Chelsea display on the South Coast of England thanks to goals from Eden Hazard and Diego Costa.


For vast swathes of this game, Southampton had the ball and the play but couldn’t break down a stubborn block of seven Chelsea players. As soon as Chelsea went 1-0 up, it played right into their game plan.

This new-look 3-4-3 formation was conducive to sitting back, asking Saints to try and break them down and then countering quickly. They did it expertly.

In the first half Costa broke free on the break but Fraser Forster denied him. In the second half Victor Moses was unleashed at the back post from another Chelsea break and somehow a combination of Costa and Pedro couldn’t squeeze the ball home. Chelsea were picking Saints off at will and all the time they never truly looked like conceding. They starved Southampton of any space in the key areas in and around the box.

Following their 3-0 thumping at Arsenal and the defeat against Liverpool last month, Conte switched to a 3-4-3 formation. Chelsea has now won four-straight games, scoring 13 goals and conceding zero.

ProSoccerTalk asked Conte last week if the new defensive style of play is impressing him more than the wins.

“After two defeats and conceding two or three goals in every game, it was important for us to change something and to find a new solution. I think this suit is very good for the team and our squad. Now we must continue,” Conte said. “I always thought that the system is not important. It is more important, the commitment to trust in the work and work very hard and also to follow the principles and my idea of football. That pleased me because when you see this in the game you go in your house and you are happy.”

It’s safe to say this style of play is working well and Conte is finding his feet in England. He made a big call to change the formation and the ideology of his side but it is suiting his players and it is allowing the likes of Costa, who netted a superb goal to seal the win, Pedro, N'Golo Kante and Hazard to thrive.


Southampton’s manager Claude Puel gave Eden Hazard his debut in Lille’s first team as a 16-year-old on Nov. 24, 2007. Chelsea’s Belgian magician handed Puel a reminder exactly why he did that.

After just five minutes he scored in his third-straight Premier League game, as he made the most of a defensive lapse on the left-side of Southampton’s defense. He took a static Steven Davis to the byline and cut inside before lashing a low shot in at the near post which went through Forster’s legs. It was a glimpse of Hazard at his best.

He was “at it” on Sunday, as he has been for most games recently. Hazard curled an effort on goal after jinxing in from the left flank in the first half and then came close to getting on the end of a Marcos Alonso cross at the start of the second half and he then cut inside and curled another shot goalwards which Forster parried. He always looked dangerous and Saints’ right back Cuco Martina will be having nightmares about Hazard for weeks.

For Hazard, he looks like the player who steered Chelsea to the title in the 2014-15 season as man thought he was approaching a place on an immortal pedestal alongside Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo. Now, he’s not back to that level of performance consistently but he’s certainly threatening to lead another title Chelsea charge.


In a disappointing display for a Saints team who hadn’t lost a Premier League game in five previous outings, the one positive was the play of Virgil can Dijk. If there’s a better center back in the Premier League than Van Dijk, I haven’t seen him.

The Dutch international did his best to not only hold Southampton’s defense together with several well-timed tackles but he also got attacks started. The 25-year-old is fast-becoming one of the most sought after central defenders in Europe and it would be a shock if some of the Premier League’s biggest teams don’t come calling in January and next summer.

He has no weaknesses. He can win headers, is intelligent when reading the game and his range of passing is impressive. If John Stones is worth over $70 million, then how much is Van Dijk worth? In just over a year at Saints since joining from Celtic for $16 million and in that time he has improved massively, adding sensibility to match his mazy runs forward. The only criticism of Van Dijk this season is that he has missed big chances to score against Hapoel Be’er Sheva and Inter Milan in Saints’ UEFA Europa League campaign. His record of popping up with big goals in the past suggests he will put that right soon enough.

Speaking of the Europa League, this Thursday Saints host Inter Milan in perhaps the biggest game, prestige wise, in club history. With Group K wide open (Sparta Prague sit top on six points, Saints and Be’er Sheva both have four points and Inter has three through three games) it is a huge moment in Saints’ season. They’ll have to bounce back from fruitless encounter against Chelsea which saw them dominate play but fail to create any clear cut chances.

Leicester City smashes Man City through Vardy hat trick

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Manchester City – Leicester City: Jamie Vardy’s hat trick included two of three Leicester City penalties as the Foxes punished Man City 5-2 at the Etihad Stadium on Sunday.

James Maddison scored a spectacular goal in a substitute performance and Youri Tielemans converted a Maddison-won penalty to salt away the points.

[ MORE: How to watch PL in the USA ]  

Riyad Mahrez had given Man City a lead over his former team but Leicester had a 2-1 lead by halftime. Nathan Ake scored late off a Mahrez corner kick for City’s second goal.

Leicester City goes atop the table in joining Everton as 3-0 teams, while Man City falls to 1-1.

Three things we learned: Manchester City – Leicester City

1. Rodgers gets a signature win: Leicester boss Brendan Rodgers has been seeking a win over a notable rivals since getting hammered by Liverpool and Man City in consecutive affairs during last season’s festive fixtures. This absolutely qualifies, and to do it in the first of 12 weeks without Wilfred Ndidi makes the win all the more impressive.

2. Pep’s point made: Guardiola had been grousing about his injuries all week and it might’ve all seemed a bit silly given the riches of Man City, but when Ferran Torres and Liam Delap entered the game as subs and you looked to the bench to see they were merely chosen over a bunch of defenders and youth, well, yup. Bernardo Silva, Ilkay Gundogan, Joao Cancelo, Gabriel Jesus, and Sergio Aguero all missed out.

3. Vardy loves the spot: Vardy knows how to make the most of any contact in the box and he’s even better once he sorts the ball on the spot. He has five goals on the young season and is not showing any signs that he’s 33 years old (aside from, perhaps, his limping gait).

Man of the Match

Tielemans is the club’s the most important player to the team now that Ndidi is out, but Nampalys Mendy filled in admirably against the top attack in the league.

Manchester City – Leicester City recap

Ex-Leicester City striker Riyad Mahrez has torn the cover off a goal to give Man City an early lead over his former club.

A loose ball fell to the Algerian near the back of the 18 and Mahrez absolutely smashed the ball into the upper reaches of the goal.

Schmeichel made a solid save on Raheem Sterling in the 18th minute as City bid for a second, and the goalkeeper also caught a Fernandinho header off a free kick.

Leicester had a chance on the break but James Justin passed instead of shooting with Ederson way off his line and it was broken up by Man City.

Rodri had the ball in the goal off a De Bruyne free kick but was offside and the score stayed 1-0.

Kyle Walker then wrestled Vardy to the box in the 37th minute. He doesn’t miss many penalties, that Vardy.

[ MORE: How to watch PL in the USA ]  

He’d provide the go-ahead goal on a combination play often seen from Man City, as Youri Tielemans sent Timothy Castagne racing to the end line. The Belgian’s cutback was cheekily turned past Ederson by the back leg of Vardy.

Vardy drew his second penalty off a push from Eric Garcia and City was in real trouble.

Schmeichel saved a De Bruyne effort in the 62nd minute and Liam Delap headed over the goal minutes later.

De Bruyne picked out Raheem Sterling at the back post with 23 minutes to play only for the Englishman to head over the goal.

There wasn’t much for Man City to like aside from Ake’s goal, 71 percent possession and a 15-7 shot edge doing little.

Bayern Munich win streak stopped short of Guinness World Record

Bayern Munich streak
Photo by DANIEL ROLAND/AFP via Getty Images
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The Guinness World Record people can cancel their midweek trip to Munich, unless they want to go for pleasure in place of business.

Coritiba’s 2011 world record for wins (24) is safe after Bayern Munich failed to match it in a 4-1 loss to Hoffenheim on Sunday at PreZero Arena, also ending a 32-match unbeaten run for Hansi Flick’s Bavarians.

[ MORE: Schalke fires Wagner ]

Maybe a slightly-weakened Bayern was weary from Thursday’s UEFA Super Cup defeat of Sevilla in Hungary.

Maybe Bayern men overlooked Hoffenheim with Wednesday’s German Super Cup date with rivals Borussia Dortmund on the docket

Or maybe it was just inevitable given the quality of football teams in the world and the fact that Hoffenheim played pretty well.

Regardless, Bayern made it five big German teams to drop points this week when Andrej Kramaric scored twice to join Munas Dabbur and Ermin Bicakcic in sending Hoffenheim to all three points (Borussia Dortmund lost Saturday, while Leipzig, Gladbach, and Bayer Leverkusen all drew).

Joshua Kimmich was good as usual for Bayern and brought the score to 2-1 by halftime, but Kramaric’s goals came in the 77th minute and deep in stoppage time as Hoffenheim overcame 28 percent possession to win.

Robert Lewandowski and Leon Goretzka started on the bench in favor of Joshua Zirkzee and Corentin Tolisso, but entered the match in the 57th minute and could not produce an equalizer.

Hoffenheim joins Augsburg as the lone 2-0 teams in the Bundesliga, though Freiburg can join them Sunday with a win over Wolfsburg. All the burgs.

Newcastle’s Bruce: Handball rule ‘nonsense’ hurting the game

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Given most of the words coming out of Steve Bruce’s mouth, you would’ve thought the penalty given late in a 1-1 draw between Tottenham Hotspur and Newcastle United hurt his side.

But Bruce did not mince words when asked about VAR awarding Newcastle a stoppage-time penalty for Andy Carroll’s late header onto the back of Eric Dier’s arm that allowed Callum Wilson to take a point for the Magpies at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

[ MORE: Match recap | Mourinho reacts ]

In fact, toss in the penalty given against Crystal Palace’s Joel Ward on Saturday and Bruce thinks the managers should approach the Premier League and demand change.

“I can understand why Spurs are going to go berserk and the way Roy Hodgson reacted yesterday,” Bruce said after the game. “It’s a total nonsense. Look we got one today and we should be jumping for joy and through hoops but I’d be devastated if it was against us. The handball rule has been around for years but the decisions are, for me, ruining the spectacles. It’s great for me today but I think we have to get together as the managers, coaches and go to the Premier League and say it must stop.”‘

What will the Premier League do about the rule and how VAR interprets it? Stay tuned…

Newcastle moves to 1-1-1 on the season to match Spurs but the Magpies did little to deserve the point aside from Karl Darlow’s 11-save day between the sticks.

It was Newcastle’s first penalty conversion after missing the only one awarded to them in 2019-20 and two of three in 2018-19.

Mourinho: Spurs’ Son out ‘a while’; Comments on VAR controversy

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Tottenham boss Jose Mourinho was enraged as VAR and FIFA’s odd handball rule conspired with a magnificent performance from Newcastle’s backup goalkeeper to take points away from Spurs in stoppage time on Sunday.

Newcastle manager Steve Bruce wasn’t too happy either, calling it “a total nonsense” despite the decision helping his Magpies to a point.

[ RECAP: Spurs 1-1 Newcastle ]

Spurs dominated but only Lucas Moura found a way past Newcastle’s Karl Darlow on an 11-save day at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

That looked like it would be enough until Newcastle’s Andy Carroll nodded a free kick onto the arm of Eric Dier, who was not facing the play, and Callum Wilson smashed home the spot kick.

“I can understand why Spurs are going to go berserk and the way Roy Hodgson reacted yesterday,” Bruce said after the game. “It’s a total nonsense.”

Mourinho tried not to comment too much on the incident except to imply that Spurs get worse calls in their 18 than other teams.

“Every box is 18-yard box but we know that the Tottenham box is a special box so we managed to keep them a-ways away,” he said. “And we had that situation where we lost two points but I’m not going to comment.”

Mourinho refused to be drawn into the handball discussion on television after the game, giving praise to his team and wishing not earn a fine.

“I don’t want to speak about it. If I want to give some money away, I give to charities. I don’t want to give to the FA,” he said.

“I think about my team performance. Very good. First half, amazing. Should be three-, four-nil easy but Darlow was fantastic. We hit the post and they managed to survive. In the second half we kept control and kept them from the box.”

Mourinho also said that star forward Heung-min Son will miss “a while” with a hamstring injury, as the rain is pouring down on North London.

Son has been wonderful this season and was in a particularly rich vein of form after scoring four times last weekend and starring in Thursday’s Europa League win in Macedonia.

Gareth Bale will hope to heal even quicker now.