Michael Obafemi

Southampton shock Chelsea

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Southampton shocked Chelsea by winning 2-0 at Stamford Bridge on Boxing Day as Frank Lampard‘s Blues continued their Jekyll and Hyde form.

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After winning at top four rivals Tottenham last time out, Chelsea were sluggish against Saints and were punished as Michael Obafemi and Nathan Redmond scored in each half to lead Ralph Hasenhuttl‘s side to a big victory.

With the win Southampton move on to 21 points, while Chelsea stay on 32 points.

The defeat marked the first time Chelsea have lost back-to-back home games in the Premier League since 2011.


3 things we learned

1. 3-4-3 not the way forward for Chelsea: Frank Lampard stuck with the 3-4-3 formation which worked so well at Spurs on Sunday, but it was a surprise he went with it at home against Southampton. Chelsea have now lost 2-0 to Saints and 1-0 against West Ham and Bournemouth in their last four home games at Stamford Bridge and their young team has been a little naive. Lampard’s admission that they will be in the transfer market in January seems to have unsettled some of his players as their transfer ban is now over.

2. Saints alive and kicking: Ralph Hasenhuttl’s side have now won four of their last six games but this was the most impressive victory of the lot. Away from home against Chelsea, Saints took the game to the Blues and their high-pressing style unnerved Chelsea. Danny Ings, their leading goalscorer, was left out and the young forward duo of Che Adams and Michael Obafemi delivered with grit and the latter with a fine goal. This was Southampton’s first clean sheet in 14 games and back-to-back wins have taken them from the relegation zone to eyeing a top 10 finish. There is still a long season ahead but Saints have finally got going.

3. Pulisic’s lack of game time concerning: When USMNT winger Pulisic didn’t start against Spurs on Sunday we assumed he was being rested to play against Southampton. He came on for the final 25 minutes and did well, winning free kicks and firing just wide, and you have to imagine he will start against Arsenal on Sunday. If he doesn’t that will be even more concerning.

Man of the Match: Jack Stephens – Won the battle against Tammy Abraham and he led the Southampton defense calmly. What a turnaround in his career over the last few months.


Early on Southampton were comfortable enough without having a clear chance on goal and the first big chance of the game came to Chelsea.

Callum Hudson-Odoi‘s shot was deflected wide by Jack Stephens and from the resulting corner Fikayo Tomori headed straight at Alex McCarthy.

Saints frustrated Chelsea in the first half and then took the lead as 19-year-old Obafemi turned, settled himself and curled home a stunner into the top corner.

Cesar Azpilicueta’s flick at the near post from a corner almost snuck in as McCarthy tipped the ball away.

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Mason Mount came on at half time for Kurt Zouma as Chelsea switched their formation to a 4-2-3-1 and Tammy Abraham slammed a shot into the side-netting from close range.

At the other end Nathan Redmond broke free and crossed for Che Adams but Tomori cleared superbly at the back post.

Redmond then spurned a great chance as he was clean through but Kepa saved down low.

USMNT’s Christian Pulisic came on for the final 25 minutes to try and salvage something for Chelsea but then Southampton killed the game off.

A break found Redmond and he calmly dinked over Kepa and in to seal a shock win for Southampton at Stamford Bridge.

PL AT HALF: Four goals across six 10 a.m. ET Boxing Day kickoffs

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The Premier League’s 10 a.m. ET kickoffs took a while to get going, but look primed for breakout second halves.

Crystal Palace 0-0 West Ham – NBC Sports Gold [STREAM]

Not much doing aside from one chance produced by Wilfried Zaha wizardry.

Everton 0-0 Burnley – NBC Sports Gold [STREAM]

The Toffees are looking in line for a new manager bounce, out-shooting the Clarets 12-2 at the break but yet to push one over the line.

Sheffield United 1-1 Watford – NBC Sports Gold [STREAM]

Diminutive star Gerard Deulofeu scored off a Nathaniel Chalobah feed as Nigel Pearson‘s Hornets took a lead that lasted only 11 minutes thanks to Oliver Norwood.

Chelsea 0-1 Southampton – NBCSN [STREAM]

Michael Obafemi, you sure can paint a pretty picture.

Aston Villa 0-0 Norwich City – NBC Sports Gold [STREAM]

Every bit the six-pointer, with the Canaries the only side to really threaten much of anything.

Bournemouth 1-0 Arsenal – NBC Sports Gold [STREAM]

There is no question Arsenal was the better side over the first half-hour, but the Gunners defense let them down again. Jack Stacey wound up deep in the Arsenal box and cut back into a sea of players, and Dan Gosling‘s foot was the first to the ball.

 

Premier League Preview: Southampton v. Bournemouth

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  • Early-season mid-table clash on the south coast
  • 10th-place Saints host 9th-place Cherries
  • 0-0, 3-3 draws in PL meetings last season

Matchweek 6 of the 2019-20 Premier League season is upon us, and the proceedings are set to kick off on Friday when a pair of south coast clubs, Southampton and Bournemouth, do battle (Watch live, 3 p.m. ET on NBCSN and NBCSports.com).

Both sides enter the clash at St. Mary’s Stadium on the back of a victory last weekend in PL action. It’s Bournemouth whose triumph last time out was wildly impressive, though, as Eddie Howe’s side cruise to a 3-1 win over top-six hopefuls Everton at Vitality Stadium. However, Saints have proven a real nightmare of an away day for the Cherries as they’re in search of their first-ever win away to Southampton (15 previous tries, beginning in 1953 – all competitions).

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Southampton secured their most recent victory when they traveled to newly promoted, 10-man Sheffield United. Home form has been a bit worrying for Saints early this season, until you consider they’ve hosted none other than Liverpool and Manchester United at St. Mary’s… until you look back to last season and realize they have won just five of their last 21 at home. On the plus side, Ralph Hasenhuttl‘s side has been much improved since conceding five goals in the first two games of the season. Since then, just one goal which came in a 1-1 draw with Man United.

Injuries/suspensions

Southampton: OUT – Kevin Danso (suspension); QUESTIONABLE – Nathan Redmond (ankle), Michael Obafemi (hamstring); PROBABLE – Ryan Bertrand (ankle)

Bournemouth: OUT – Charlie Daniels (knee), Lloyd Kelly (ankle), Dan Gosling (hip), David Brooks (ankle), Junior Stanislas (knee), Simon Francis (fitness); QUESTIONABLE – Chris Mepham (undisclosed), Arnaut Danjuma (foot)


Projected lineups

Southampton: Gunn – Bednarek, Yoshida, Vestergaard – Soares, Romeu, Hojberg – Ward-Prowse, Boufal – Adams, Ings

Bournemouth: Ramsdale – Stacey, Cook, Ake, Rico – Wilson, Billing, Cook, King – Solanke, Wilson


What they’re saying

Ralph Hasenhuttl, on Southampton’s defensive improvement: “This season it’s not the case that we don’t give them any chances, they still have chances because it’s very difficult in the Premier League to not give them a chance. Also the goalkeepers Angus (Gunn) and Alex (McCarthy) make a good development this season and the back five were very concentrated. It is good to see things develop that you have been working on. This can hopefully continue.”

Eddie Howe, on the budding south coast rivalry: “It should be a really feisty game, a really good atmosphere and an entertaining match. Southampton have started very well, too. It’s gaining in everybody’s focus. The more games we have, the more the rivalry will intensify I think. We’ve enjoyed the games against Southampton which have been tight and tough, from both clubs’ perspectives. We’re looking forward to another entertaining match.”


Prediction

Southampton have been far more convincing in their defending than Bournemouth on the attack. It’ll likely be a game of precious few high-value chances. In the end, neither Saints get the elusive home win nor the Cherries get the first victory at Southampton. Final score: 1-1.

Premier League Preview: Southampton v. Man Utd

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Saints and Red Devils will battle for the high ground on Saturday at St. Mary’s (Watch live at 7:30 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com).

Southampton’s three points have them in the drop zone, thanks to half of the table holding 1-1-1 records. That half includes Manchester United.

WATCH LIVE, ONLINE, HERE

Manchester United will have neither Luke Shaw nor Anthony Martial on Saturday, the latter a huge problem considering he’s been the club’s top performer this season.

And with the Red Devils having sanctioned a pair of Serie A loan moves for Chris Smalling and Alexis Sanchez, the bench is going to look a little different this week.

Saints have injuries, too, as depth will be tested for both Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Ralph Hasenhuttl.


Injuries/suspensions

Southampton — OUT: Nathan Redmond, Moussa Djenepo. UNLIKELY: Michael Obafemi. QUESTIONABLE: Ryan Bertrand.

Man Utd — OUT: Shaw, Martial, Diogo Dalot, Eric Bailly, Timothy Fosu-Mensah.


What they’re saying

Saints manager Hasenhuttl eyes progress“I think the team is building up self-confidence now, after that difficult start, with difficult games. We had a very good performance against Liverpool, but with no points after two games, and now we have turned the table a little bit and we can make a massive step now when we take three points against Man United.”

United boss Solskjaer on possible Zlatan return: “Who knows, he knows my number, he looked at my house [to rent]. We can speak a native language, if he’s serious I’ll always speak to Zlatan. I don’t think that’ll happen, no. I think he’s had his time at the club, he’s had a fantastic career at the club.”


Projected lineups

Southampton: Gunn — Danso, Vestergaard, Yoshida, Bednarek, Valery — Hojbjerg, Romeu, Ward-Prowse — Ings, Adams.

Manchester United: De Gea — Young, Lindelof, Maguire, Wan-Bissaka — McTominay, Pogba, Mata — James, Rashford, Lingard.


Prediction: United has been terribly unfortunate this season, but at some point the Red Devils have to let the rubber meet the road in terms of results. It won’t be easy at Southampton, but the lack of Redmond and Djenepo may force Hasenhuttl to play it safe. That sounds like 1-0 United to us. For the entertainment of it, let’s hope somebody scores early.

League Cup: Norwich City, Palace bounced

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There were extremes in the fortunes of Premier League teams who opened their League Cup runs on Tuesday.

[ MORE: What we’ve learned from PL so far ]

Aston Villa rang up six goals and struggling Watford posted a 3-0 blowout win, while Norwich City was expelled from the tournament by a League Two side and was Crystal Palace in penalty kicks.

Brighton was taken to the brink as well, but an old friend saved the Seagulls.

Watford 3-0 Coventry City

Ismalia Sarr and Daryl Janmaat scored on either side of half time as the Hornets finally got in the win column following a 0-3 start to the PL season. Adalberto Peñarnda of Venezuela added the third goal.

Crawley Town 1-0 Norwich City

Congolese striker Bez Lubala scored the goal that knocked down the Canaries. Lubala has five goals in six matches for the League Two outfit and is enjoying a new lease on life after failing to make an impact with Birmingham City in the Championship.

The win was the first against top flight opposition in the club’s 120-plus years.

Lubala scores (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)

Newport County 0-2 West Ham United

Jack Wilshere scored right before the break and Pablo Fornais added one off a Felipe Anderson feed soon after halftime as the Irons overcame a stiff challenge from the side that knocked Leicester City out of the FA Cup last season en route to a fifth round exit.

Fulham 0-1 Southampton

Michael Obafemi‘s 57th minute goal was the difference as Saints were ready for the tricky test at Craven Cottage.

Crewe Alexandra 1-6 Aston Villa

The hosts were up to the challenge, but Villa quite clinical as Ezri Konza scored in the fourth minute and Conor Hourihane added two to give the Villans a three-goal halftime lead. Keinan Davis, Frederic Guilbert, and Jack Grealish scored late to heap misery on the hosts.

Sheffield United 2-1 Blackburn Rovers

Chris Wilder‘s top flight men only managed two shots in the first half, but put them both in the goal.

Bristol Rovers 1-2 Brighton and Hove Albion

The Seagulls had all of the ball and a first half lead through Aaron Connolly before allowing an equalizer in the second. Glenn Murray — who else? — scored in stoppage time to save Graham Potter‘s men the upset.

Crystal Palace 0-0 (4-5 pens) Colchester United

Roy Hodgson‘s men had a good crew on the pitch, but couldn’t manage much of anything in attack even after inserting Wilfried Zaha and Jordan Ayew.

Penalties started poorly, with U’s goalkeeper Dean Gerken saving Andros Townsend, and the Eagles never recovered.

Oxford United 2-2 (4-2 pens) Millwall

Iceland national team winger Jón Daði Böðvarsson scored both of the visitors goals to put Oxford down 2-0, but Mark Sykes’ 87th minute marker joined James Henry’s stoppage time penalty to make for a remarkable comeback.

Plymouth Argyle 2-4 Reading

Posting this to show how far American striker Andrija Novakovich is from the plans of Reading, who is reportedly open to sanctioning another Eredivisie loan for him. PEC Zwolle is the clubhouse leader according to football-oranje.com.

Elsewhere
Southend United 1-4 MK Dons
Burton 4-0 Morecambe
Grimsby Town v. Macclesfield (abandoned)
Leeds United 2-2 (4-5 pens) Stoke City
Nottingham Forest 3-0 Derby County
Preston North End 2-2 (5-4 pens) Hull City
Rochdale 2-1 Carlisle
Cardiff City 0-3 Luton Town
Southend United 1-2 Coventry City