Southampton 2-3 Chelsea: Stunning Blues comeback

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  • Giroud jumps off bench, scores twice
  • Southampton blow 2-0 lead
  • Chelsea close gap on top four to seven points

Chelsea fought back from 2-0 down to beat Southampton 3-2 on Saturday at St Mary’s as the Blues scored three goals in eight minutes to turn the game on its head.

Saints went 1-0 up through Dusan Tadic, then Jan Bednarek doubled the lead on his Premier League debut as the home side looked to be powering to victory. Then Olivier Giroud rescued Chelsea off the bench as he pulled one back, before Eden Hazard equalized and then Giroud scored the winner.

The victory has Chelsea seven points off the top four, while Saints remain in the bottom three after their stunning collapse as they’ve now lost all three games under Mark Hughes.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Saints started the game well and were rewarded after a fine piece of play from Ryan Bertrand.

The former Chelsea left back surged forward from left back and kept his composure brilliantly to pick out Tadic to finish. 1-0 to the Saints.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

Chelsea improved as the first half wore on with a corner almost catching out Alex McCarthy but he clawed it away well.

Southampton were dangerous on the break with Shane Long‘s pace as James Ward-Prowse forced a good stop out of Thibaut Courtois but Chelsea had plenty of possession but couldn’t break down a stubborn Saints defense in the first half.

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

After a nasty tackle from Marcos Alonso on Long just before half time, Long went close after the break as he raced clear, turned Andreas Christensen but his looping shot was touched over by Courtois.

At the other end Chelsea started to click through the gears as McCarthy spilled a low shot then palmed an effort from Eden Hazard wide at the near post. Saints then made it 2-0 as Ward-Prowse fine free kick from the right picked out Bednarek at the back post and he finished superbly on his Premier League debut to send St Mary’s wild.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

Then Chelsea came roaring back.

First Giroud flicked in a header with 20 minutes to go after jumping off the bench, then Hazard made it 2-2 soon after as Southampton imploded.

Giroud then drilled home a fine low finish to cap a stunning period of three goals in eight minutes for Chelsea as the Blues grabbed victory from the jaws of defeat.

Arsenal 3-2 Southampton: Welbeck gets last laugh

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  • Saints take early lead
  • Gunners claim advantage by halftime
  • Southampton remains 18th

Danny Welbeck‘s brace helped Arsenal defy the efforts of desperate Southampton in a 3-2 win at the Emirates Stadium on Sunday.

Welbeck had just missed a sitter when he connected with the winner, and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang also scored for the Gunners.

Arsenal moves to within two points of fifth place Chelsea ahead of the Blues match with West Ham United (Watch live at 11:30 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com).

Shane Long and Charlie Austin scored for Saints, who led 1-0 and drew level at 2-2 in the second half. Southampton remains three points back of safety.

Jack Stephens was sent off for Saints in stoppage time, and Mohamed Elneny was also shown a red card in the aftermath of the same scrum.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

A goal line clearance came early, with James Ward-Prowse taking a feed from Shane Long and beating Petr Cech but not Calum Chambers.

And Long again threatened for pace moments later as Saints pressed for an opener.

So it was fitting when Long put Saints ahead, taking advantage of a sleeping Shkrodan Mustafi to cut to the near post and redirect a cross beyond the reach of Cech.

Arenal leveld in the 29th minute, with Aubameyang chopped the ball off the ground for a clever nutmegged finish past Alex McCarthy.

Welbeck made it 2-1 in the 38th, leaving McCarthy helpless with a deflected shot from an Alex Iwobi feed.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

Both Aubameyang and Granit Xhaka forced top end saves out of McCarthy in the first three minutes of the second half.

Long looked like he had restored the deadlock and the away support had a moment’s joy only to see the flag up. The Irish striker was offside.

Wesley Hoedt then forced Cech into a flying save with a 30-yard effort which may have been destined for the post.

Austin then scored a lunchpail goal, cutting into the box within 80 seconds of subbing into the game to force 2-2. It was a deserved equalizer.

Welbeck missed a sitter when Iwobi spied Wilshere at the back post. The ex-Manchester United man couldn’t get his leg in position to get the ball over the line (with Aubameyang ready for a tap-in, unbeknownst to Welbeck).

He’d get his goal in the 81st minute, stabbing home a header at the back post from an Iwobi cross.

Ward-Prowse issues Saints rallying cry

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SOUTHAMPTON — James Ward-Prowse is a living, breathing embodiment of the Southampton Way.

Coming through their famed academy, he has been at the club since the age of eight and has now been a key part of their first team since they were promoted back to the Premier League in 2012-13, as well as going on to become a full England international and being the long-time captain of the Three Lions’ U-21 side.

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But the current Southampton Way could soon include relegation from the Premier League with Saints two points from safety with eight games to go as new manager Mark Hughes prepares for an almighty scrap against the drop.

The first of those pivotal games comes at relegation rivals West Ham this Saturday (Watch live, 10 a.m. ET on CNBC and online via NBCSports.com) with the Hammers just one place and two points above Southampton.

Speaking exclusively to Pro Soccer Talk, Ward-Prowse, 23, knows that this match at the London Stadium falls into the category of a “six-pointer” as Saints are running out of games against direct relegation rivals.

“This is a game that we need to win, for sure,” Ward-Prowse said. “We can’t afford to lose games or draw games because ultimately that’s going to cost us. It may not necessarily be a game of good football or who can play the best football, it is about who can win the game. That doesn’t matter if it’s a scrappy 89th minute goal or a blitzing 4-0 win. We have to win the game and make sure we are solid throughout.”

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

Ward-Prowse was speaking at the launch of a Saints exhibition at Southampton’s SeaCity Museum, as a history of the club “We March On: Then and Now” was unveiled as past legends Matt Le Tissier, Mick Channon and others reminisced about the good old times. There was an FA Cup trophy on show and plenty of reminders about Southampton’s remarkable journey back through the leagues as they rose from third-tier of English soccer in a journey which started in 2009, bankrolled by the Libeherr family.

With Saints now securing fourth-straight top eight finishes in the Premier League, plus reaching the League Cup final last season and European action in each of the last two campaigns, Ward-Prowse knows that staying in England’s top-flight is the only thing they can focus on.

However they do it, Saints must stay up.

“It is game by game but we just need to be in the Premier League next season,” Ward-Prowse said. “It doesn’t matter how it comes and we want to play nice football, of course, but we find ourselves in a situation that we are in and we have to reevaluate where we are, where we need to be and what we have to do to get there. We are confident with the manager and the players we have that we can do that.”

As for the new boss, Hughes’ arrival already seems to have had a positive impact on the squad. They beat Wigan Athletic in a FA Cup quarterfinal in his first game in charge and will now play Chelsea in the semi at Wembley next month to try and book a spot in a second major cup final in as many years.

What has been the key message from Hughes so far?

“To be a bit more positive,” Ward-Prowse explained. “For us, we are a good team, and confidence wise over the last few weeks we’ve maybe not been at it but he’s encouraged us to take risks and he has reminded us of the quality that we have got. The training sessions have been intense, they’ve been sharp and there’s been a purpose. It is very exciting looking forward for us.”

With 13 draws this season, the most in the Premier League, Southampton seemed negative and sometimes scared to attack under former manager Mauricio Pellegrino who was replaced with Hughes earlier this month.

Aside from a relegation battle, Ward-Prowse revealed the FA Cup run to the final four has been a welcome distraction for the team.

After losing narrowly to Manchester United in the League Cup final last season, Ward-Prowse, stood close to the only major trophy Southampton have ever won (upsetting United as a second-tier team in the 1976 FA Cup final) is eyeing another trip to a final.

“It is. It gives us something to look forward to. It’s not been a great season so far for us but this gives us a bit of excitement and it is a great distraction. We are all very excited to play our part in what will hopefully be a successful cup run,” Ward-Prowse smiled. “It’s not a game based on three points and it is the magic of the FA Cup. Anything can happen. It’s a game that hopefully we can win to give our fans yet another day out at Wembley. You’ve seen some teams go on great cup runs throughout the years and we can take confidence from last year, the way we applied ourselves in the cup run against Arsenal away and Liverpool away and home particularly, we dominated those games. We can take that going forward.”

But the focus remains fully on staying up. Ward-Prowse, more than most, is well aware of what relegation from the Premier League means and that could perhaps point to his improved form in the opening months of 2018 after a self-confessed slow start to the current campaign.

Ward-Prowse has scored four goals and added two assists since the turn of the year (he hadn’t scored this season before Jan. 6), contributing to more goals than any other Southampton player in that span as he aims to dig them out of the relegation battle they’re in and also has one eye on sneaking into the full England squad for the World Cup this summer.

The local lad has seen how relegation impacts the people in the City of Southampton and those working for the club, and when Ward-Prowse was a youngster in the academy the club went into administration and started the 2009-10 season on -10 points in the third-tier of English soccer.

Back then they almost fell off the face of the earth before the Liebherr family saved Saints and started their journey back to the top-flight. The impact of relegation surely won’t be as drastic this time around, if it happens, but it is unsure how the new Chinese owners of the club, the Gao family, would respond to Southampton suddenly becoming a second-tier club.

Although wary of what relegation would bring, Ward-Prowse revealed his past experiences of struggle at Southampton spur him on to make sure the club doesn’t go through it again.

“You always have to be wary of those sort of things but those feelings spur us on as players to make sure that doesn’t happen,” Ward-Prowse said. “I’ve seen that happen here and I’m even more determined to play my part to make sure that doesn’t happen. The quality of the players we have got should get us out of the trouble we are in… I’ve got a bit  more of an emotional attachment to the club with the journey I’ve been on. I’ve seen the lows and the highs, I am desperate to play my part and I’m sure they [other players] are as well. If we can do that collectively then we will be fine.”

Could Loris Karius really be the answer for Liverpool’s goalkeeping woes?

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The general consensus has been that while Liverpool continues to improve, the goalkeeping situation at the club has become untenable, and that the Reds will need to move on from Simon Mignolet in the summer.

With names like Atletico Madrid’s Jan Oblak, PSG’s Kevin Trapp, Stoke City’s Jack Butland, and Samir Handanovic all thrown around, the seat between the sticks at Anfield has been heating up.

Loris Karius has other ideas.

[ MORE: Chelsea puts West Brom to bed 3-0 ]

Signed for just $8 million in the summer of 2016, the 24-year-old German was thought of largely as a backup to Mignolet, and it’s been that way until just a few weeks ago. Having snatched the starting job from his Belgian counterpart after solid performances against Leicester City and Manchester City, Karius suddenly has a chance to not just lead Liverpool down the stretch run of a promising season, but potentially save the club millions of dollars this summer.

But could Karius really be the long-term option for Liverpool in goal? The sample size is small, but he’s showing promise the last few weeks.

The 2-0 win over Southampton was one of his best performances in a Liverpool shirt.

His recognition to notice danger before the chance was truly created allowed him to charge strongly off his line and stop a shot by Pierre-Emile Hojberg. He initially came to collect a cross by Dusan Tadic, but once it was clear he wouldn’t reach it, instead of finding himself caught in no-man’s land, he again recognized a play before it happened and back-tracked in time to acrobatically stop James Ward-Prowse‘s header.

And finally, Karius is even involved in the build-up to Liverpool’s first goal, correctly finding Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain in acres of space on the counter.

Against Tottenham, Karius came off his line to smother a big chance from Heung-Min Son with the Liverpool defense out of sorts, charging down the striker while stopping himself just short as to not concede a penalty. Karius’s ability to come off his line with precision will make Liverpool fans beam with glee, as Mignolet struggled mightily with that aspect of his game.

Karius has been a significant improvement over Simon Mignolet in general this season, with a significant advantage in his WhoScored rating (6.72 for Karius vs. 6.49 for Mignolet in Premier League play), while he also owns a far superior Squawka.com rating for the season (101.89 for Karius vs. 29.07 for Mignolet) thanks in large part to a better saves per goal tally (1.43 for Karius, 1.21 for Mignolet). He’s also not made a defensive error yet this season, according to Squawka, while Mignolet wrapped up three. The distribution numbers still favors Mignolet, but Karius has been able to have an effect up front in that department despite not having the consistency.

However, not all is where it needs to be. Against Manchester City, for example, Leroy Sane beat Karius at his near post from a tight angle with a shot a top goalkeeper should be saving.

Against Spurs, Karius did concede a penalty for coming out of net and fouling Harry Kane, but it was hard to blame the keeper after a laughable mis-kick from Dejan Lovren left him completely exposed and with few options.

The German will get plenty of chances to prove his worth, as Jurgen Klopp said he will likely stick with Karius in goal for Champions League play as well, giving him ample time to both impress and improve, or prove it’s all a fad.

Is Karius suddenly a hidden gem in the process of revealing itself to the Premier League and the world? Or is this a flash in the pan? If his form continues, will it be enough to allow Liverpool to focus its resources elsewhere this summer, or will they still feel compelled to reach into the coffers to improve at the position? It all remains to be seen, but the last few weeks have complicated the situation, if nothing else.

Southampton 0-2 Liverpool: Salah, Firmino thrill

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  • Reds go third
  • Salah, Firmino each w/ goal, assist
  • Saints sink 18th

Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah assisted on each other’s goals as Liverpool beat Southampton 2-0 at St. Mary’s on Sunday.

The Reds are two points behind Manchester United for second in the Premier League, while Saints dip into the drop zone with 26 points.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Liverpool was ahead after six minutes, with Mohamed Salah receiving the luxury of a wide open Sadio Mane and Firmino. He chose the latter, and the latter chose to finish beyond the reach of Alex McCarthy. 1-0, Reds.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain had a shot deflected toward a diving McCarthy moments later.

Saints were on the verge of equalizing when Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg trapped a diagonal ball in the 18, but Loris Karius came charging to make a fine save.

James Ward-Prowse swept a cross to the penalty spot, where Guido Carrillo forced a save out of Karius with a header. Moments later, Dusan Tadic sent one to Ward-Prowse, whose header was palmed out for a corner by Karius.

Saints were on the front foot for the remainder of the half, that is excepting Liverpool’s crucial second goal. Salah and Firmino worked a 1-2 which included a back heel from the Brazilian. 2-0, 42′.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

Ward-Prowse hit a hard free kick to the front post, and Hoedt couldn’t quite turn it past Karius as the match remained 2-0 in the 60th minute.

Salah collected a Firmino rebound off a Mane-inspired combination, but saw a rare miss hit the outside of the side netting.

Substitute Adam Lallana nearly found the side panel against his old team, but shot wide of the far post.