Kepa the penalty king!
Chelsea took on Southampton for the 2nd time at Stamford Bridge this season although this game came in the Round of 16 of the Carabao Cup. Southampton surprisingly switched to back 3 with Forster starting in goal, and Valery, Lyanco, and Salisu making up that back 3. There was rotation in the midfield as well with Walker-Peters and Djenepo starting as the wing backs and Armstrong, and Diallo starting in the centre. Armstrong, Adams, and Tella made up the attack up front. Tuchel also made some interesting decisions for the starting XI mainly due to injuries to the likes of Azpilicueta, Christensen, and Loftus-Cheek. Kepa started in goal with a back 3 of James, Chalobah, and Sarr. Hudson-Odoi, and Alonso played as the wing backs with a midfield of Saul and Kovacic. Barkley, and Ziyech played behind Havertz in attack. A strong lineup regardless.
The game was a fairly even one although Chelsea had the better chances in the 1st half. Forster was forced into some good saves by Havertz in particular. The first goal came in the 44th minute with Havertz heading in a corner from Ziyech. At half time Havertz, in particular had done well in attack but Ziyech and Barkley had been frustrating. The 2nd half started with Southampton getting right back into the game after Che Adams latched on to a loose ball in the box in the 47th minute. The 2nd half was more end to end and it lit up particularly after Chilwell, and Mount came on. Forster was forced into some very good saves by Saul who particularly grew into the game. Kepa then made some stunning saves from two successive corner towards the end of the game. The game ended up going into penalties. Armstrong, and Alonso made it 1-1. Walcott saw his penalty saved by Kepa and Forster saved Mount’s.. Long and Hudson-Odoi both converted to make it 2-2. Smallbone skied his penalty and Chilwell converted to make it 3-2 for Chelsea. Romeu scored his but James scored the final penalty to make it 4-3 to Chelsea and send us into the quarter-finals.
Chelsea Team Review
Kepa came into the net for this game and did quite well as I gave him man of the match. Could Kepa have pushed the ball further away for the goal? Maybe but I wouldn’t really blame him because it was also poor defending. After that Kepa made around 5 good saved to keep Chelsea in the game and none more important than those that came in the final minutes. Another save in the penalties as well means that Kepa is very confident at the moment. There was also improvement in his movement around the box and playing a sweeper role at times.
Sarr, Chalobah, James did quite well with Chalobah in particular looking brilliant once again this time in the middle of the back three. Alonso was ok but clearly the lack of pace was a problem at times. Chilwell did well after he came on and gave us same pace going forward although he played as the right wing back.
Saul began slowly but got better as the game went on. Saul also came close a few times to getting his first goal for Chelsea but Forster saved three of his chances with one being a header. It was a good game for the Spaniard. Kovacic did well but looked tired towards the end of the game. Barkley was ok but his decision making in the final third was lacking. Mount came on in the 2nd half and made an impact.
Hudson-Odoi played as a right wing back for around 70 minutes then got 20 playing further forward. It was a decent game given the circumstances. Ziyech had poor first half but got an assist from the corner but overall it wasn’t a great game. Havertz had the best time with a few shots on target and a goal. It was a good game for him and another step in the right direction.
Tuchel get’s another win as we progress to the quarter-finals for the first time since 2018. It was a tough game mainly because Southampton are not a bad team but the rotation worked and the players on the pitch showed good intensity which will encourage Tuchel.
Next up is a trip to Newcastle in the Premier League, COME ON CHELSEA!!!