Chelsea drop two points at Southampton but the Blues’ lead at the top of the table is preserved at three points thanks to other fortunate results.
The Blues, who had garnered an eight-point lead earlier in the season, would come unstuck against a well-drilled Southampton side, but had Burnley to thank as the Clarets recovered from being 2-0 down at half-time to draw at Manchester City.
Back at St Mary’s, there was only one shot on target for both sides, so a share of the spoils was right. Mane put the hosts in front to shock Chelsea, but Hazard restored parity just before the half-time whistle sounded.
Mourinho has not tinkered with his starting side much this season, opting more for an automated approach with his set 11 players, but it called for change this time with three games in six days. Luis replaced Azpilicueta, Oscar was ill so Fabregas pushed further forward, allowing Mikel a slot alongside Matic.
Southampton, though, were as eager as Chelsea, who have been known for their fast start this season. And it was The Saints who took the lead in the 17th minute. Atypically, it was Terry, who has made welcome headlines in recent days with two goals in his last two matches, prompting Mourinho to say a new contract for him was a formality, who was at fault, racing up to try to play the offside trap, only to be caught by a Southampton lob, which Mane raced onto and fooled Courtois. Southampton have never dropped points after going in front this season.
Chelsea had to respond, and quickly, but Southampton were brilliantly drilled, stifling every Chelsea attack. Mini Blue sieges on the Southampton goal only resulted in interceptions, with Hazard, Costa and Fabregas all struggling to pave a way through.
Fabregas got closest when his lob nearly found Schurrle to prod home, but it looked like Chelsea would go into the break 1-0 down, with Drogba about to replace Mikel for the second half.
All that was averted, though, when Hazard brought the scoreline level in first-half injury time. Everybody knows the Belgian will cut in from the left-wing but few can stop it, and Hazard went past two Southampton defenders before rifling home an equaliser, much to the relief of his manager.
How the second half would pan out would make for as fascinating a contest. Chelsea continued to huff and puff but with no break-through. Schneiderlin took one for the team as he was sent off late in the match, but Chelsea’s afternoon was summed up when Taylor booked Fabregas for simulation when it ought to have been a penalty.
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Man of the Match
Mourinho was livid with the referee: “My players tried to win, especially in the second half. I can’t understand such a big penalty [claim, when Cesc Fabregas fell under the challenge of Matt Targett]. Match after match coaches are telling Chelsea players are diving. I will go to the referee and wish him a good year and tell him he will be ashamed.”
Koeman was pleased: “One point against Chelsea is worth three points against another opponent. I’m proud of the spirit and organisation.”
Post written by Martin Li. Martin has had three years’ blogging experience, writing for the likes of Bleacher Report and SWOL. He runs his own Chelsea blog — The Chelsea Chronicle — which has match reaction and analysis from every Chelsea match. You can follow him on Twitter.
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