Chelsea responded in perfect fashion after back-to-back defeats by thrashing Southampton 6-0 – with all of their goals in the opening 55 minutes – following braces from Mason Mount and Timo Werner.
The Blues had been beaten 4-1 at home by Brentford in their last Premier League outing before losing 3-1 to Real Madrid in their Champions League quarter-final first leg on Wednesday.
But any concerns over their form were put to bed with a ruthless display at St Mary’s from the moment Marcos Alonso gave them an eighth-minute lead.
Chelsea were 3-0 up after just 21 minutes and were six in front within an hour as Southampton wilted in the sunshine although at least avoided another 9-0 drubbing.
Mount set up Alonso with a brilliant flick for the opener before the England midfielder struck a sweet effort from the edge of the area which found the corner.
Werner had already hit a post and the crossbar before he raced away from Jan Bednarek, rounded Fraser Forster and slotted into an empty net from an angle for Chelsea’s third.
Southampton: The two Armstrongs, Adam and Stuart, were the only changes Ralph Hasenhuttl made to his team following their 1-1 draw at Leeds last time out.
On-loan forward Armando Broja was not in the squad as he was unable to face his parent club. Ibrahima Diallo started on the bench.
Chelsea: Thomas Tuchel made four changes to his Chelsea side that were beaten 3-1 by Real Madrid on Wednesday.
Reece James, Jorginho and Christian Pulisic all dropped to the bench while Cesar Azpilicueta was not in the squad.
In came Mateo Kovacic, Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Timo Werner and Marcos Alonso.
The striker, back in the starting line-up, then hit the woodwork for a third time in the first half after capitalising on more poor Southampton defending, and the rebound fell to Kai Havertz to tap in.
Forster still had to make saves from Havertz and Rudiger before half-time while Mount went close with a deflected effort. However, Chelsea, who were without Cesar Azpilicueta after he tested positive for Covid on Friday and the injured Romelu Lukaku, picked up from where they left off at the start of the second half when Werner converted into an empty net after Forster had saved from Ngolo Kante.
Southampton: Forster (5), Walker-Peters (5), Romeu (4), Ward-Prowse (4), A. Armstrong (5), Adams (5), S. Armstrong (5), Livramento (4), Salisu (4), Elyounoussi (4), Bednarek (4).
Subs: Caballero, Stephens, Redmond, Perraud, Smallbone (5), Tella, Diallo (5), Walcott, Valery (5).
Chelsea: Mendy (7), Rudiger (7), Alonso (8), Christensen (7), Silva (7), Kante (8), Kovacic (8), Werner (9), Loftus-Cheek (8), Mount (9), Havertz (8).
Subs: Pulisic (6), Ziyech (6), James (6).
Man of the match: Mason Mount
Southampton did go close through Che Adams, who was denied at close range by Edouard Mendy.
Werner was denied a hat-trick by another Forster save but yet again the rebound fell kindly for Mount to tap in for a simple sixth to set Chelsea well and truly back on track.
Tuchel: Werner showed he did not give up
Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel hailed Timo Werner’s two-goal performance after calling on the striker to make a statement against Southampton having been benched on Wednesday against Real Madrid.
“It was his position, it was the players around him, the connection with Mason, Kai and Kova, he has a connection with these players,” said Tuchel.
“It was the double striker position, the half-left position, it was an opponent where we imagined we could find spaces in behind because it’s a higher attacking opponent.
“It was set out to deliver. Everything was there to make a statement that he did not give up and he is still an important player of this club and group. It was necessary.”
Tuchel was also satisfied with his team’s response to their difficult week with the victory showing how their application to the physical side of the game allowed their quality to come through.
“Very good performance, offensive-wise but also defensive-wise,” he said. “The percentage of won challenges at half-time was extraordinary and was also key to this performance because it’s not only a passing game against Southampton it’s also about winning the duels, accepting the physicality.
“By winning the challenges we had chances to be dangerous through offensive transition, not only through ball possession gain and that was a good mix in all areas of the pitch. Mentality and commitment was very good.
“It tells us we are not the team to escape with results if our input isn’t 90 or 80 per cent of energy, commitment and investment. We are a special group when we have the priorities right. If we are committed, if we defend with courage, if we have the attitude right, the hunger in challenges. If the priorities are clear that this is our foundation to then show the quality then we are a strong group and then this is a special group of players.
“It’s not always easy for us to have this hunger and have this commitment and the physical input because we come from an awful lot of matches and a ruthless schedule. It’s not always easy but this is the reality.”
Southampton slip back to old problems
Ralph Hasenhuttl says his Southampton side slipped back into some of their bad defensive habits as they succumbed to Chelsea.
“We can discuss how bad we’ve been or how good Chelsea have been,” he said. “We have to congratulate them for a very aggressive performance from the first moment on. You could feel and see they knew they would be very hot today and the only chance for us against such a team is when we are hot and they are not so.
“At the moment we are not convinced that we can definitely press such a team but when you want to do it then you have to be more convinced about it. That was the problem in the beginning and then we tried to change a few things to make it a little bit more compact but every ball we lost was immediately a super counter-attack.
“For us, in the way we defended was very disappointing to see we fell back into a behaviour that I thought was gone. It seems we have to have one game of this every season. It is not nice to watch and definitely very hard to take.”
Analysis: Chelsea show their bite again
Sky Sports’ David Richardson at St Mary’s:
Within 21 minutes at St Mary’s, Chelsea had delivered the response needed of them after two damaging defeats.
Marcos Alonso, Mason Mount and Timo Werner had all struck to quickly lay any concerns to rest having been stunned by Brentford 4-1 a week ago and then humbled 3-1 at home by Real Madrid.
Thomas Tuchel made four changes from their Champions League quarter-final first leg defeat with Mateo Kovacic, Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Timo Werner and Marcos Alonso all put into the team.
The switches helped Chelsea be more aggressive against a Southampton side known for their tenacity. It meant when they won the ball back quickly, they could counter-attack immediately and capitalise on the space in behind the Southampton defence. The Blues were so good at hustling the Saints midfield that the combative Oriol Romeu was hooked after just 35 minutes having been thoroughly overrun.
Kovacic and Ngolo Kante were relentless in their pressure while Loftus-Cheek, despite playing out-of-position at right-wing back, played a crucial part in Chelsea’s physicality, but also in attack by being involved in two goals. Alonso, too, also delivered the important opener with a trademark arrival into the box.
Then there was Werner who showed his value after being benched against Madrid with two goals from enough chances to score five, not that it mattered in the end because Chelsea found their sting again.
Opta stats: Away day joy for Chelsea
- Chelsea have won each of their last seven away games in all competitions, their joint-longest winning run on the road in their history, alongside seven-match streaks in April 1989 and November 2019.
- This was Chelsea’s joint-biggest top-flight away win, alongside 6-0 victories at Barnsley (August 1997) and Wigan (August 2010). For Southampton, their only heavier home defeat in their Football League history was their record 9-0 loss to Leicester in October 2019.
- This was the 19th time that Chelsea have scored 6+ goals in a single Premier League game, the joint-most of any club (level with Manchester City). Conversely, Southampton shipped 6+ goals in a Premier League match for a 10th time, the outright most of any side.
- Chelsea forward Timo Werner scored his second and third Premier League goals of the season, all of which have come against Southampton. Indeed, 56% of his goals in the competition overall have come against the Saints (5/9), the only opponent he has netted against more than once.
April 12 – Real Madrid (a) Champions League QF second leg
April 17 – Crystal Palace (Wembley) FA Cup semi-final
April 20 – Arsenal (h) Premier League, live on Sky Sports
April 24 – West Ham (h) Premier League, live on Sky Sports
April 26/27 – Man City/Atletico Madrid Champions League SF first leg *
May 1 – Everton (a) Premier League, live on Sky Sports
May 3/4 – Man City/Atletico Madrid Champions League SF second leg *
May 7 – Wolves (h) Premier League
May 11 – Leeds (a) Premier League, live on Sky Sports
May 14 – FA Cup final *
May 15 – Man United (a) Premier League, live on Sky Sports
May 19 – Leicester (h) Premier League
May 22 – Watford (h) Premier League
May 28 – Champions League final *
* Subject to progress
What’s next for Southampton?
Southampton host Arsenal next Saturday at St Mary’s at 3pm before visiting Burnley on Thursday April 21 at 7.45pm, live on Sky Sports.