Before the match, when both teams were waiting to enter the field, Azpilicueta was mocked by the young Southampton mascot. It was an easy moment that defused the pre-match tension and also proved to be the only entertainment that day for the Spanish defender.
In this Azpilicueta looked his age. The 33-year-old defender had a hard time on the right flank, where he started in place of Rhys James, who was ill.
He conceded a corner that led to Southampton’s first goal and then missed the ball directly to Lavia, leading to a fine finish for the youngster. Overall, Azpilicueta struggled with the pace of the game as James’ presence was sorely missed.
The England star is irreplaceable these days as questions remain about Azpilicueta’s ability to truly back him up as a clean right-back.
Jorginho/Loftus Cheek Pair:
For years, Tuchel favored a three-back formation, and nights like these show why.
Chelsea simply don’t have the staff to play in a four-back system right now as the midfield has left the back line open too often.
Jorginho struggled defensively and couldn’t play as a pure No. 6 without any cover. Loftus-Cheek got off to a promising start but then became too predictable with the ball after the first few minutes, proving damage as the game went on. And Mount did well enough, but obviously doesn’t offer as much defensive presence.
Do Chelsea need a stronger presence like Declan Rice? Quite possible. Can a healthy N’Golo Kante hide these problems? May be. Are they better suited to the “three in the rear” system? Definitely.
For the Blues midfield, it was a night to forget.
The American was sent to the bench for the fifth game in a row as transfer rumors continue to swirl.
Recent reports have suggested that Pulisic will not be leaving Stamford Bridge despite a loan move to Manchester United. Instead, he will be asked to fight for his place, and Tuchel will not want to let him go.
All this to just be thrown into the game out of position after the team’s initial setup didn’t work.
Pulisic is not a cornerback, and although he enjoys getting on the field, minutes in this part of the field do not help anyone. Coming out in the second half, Pulisic struggled, turning the ball twice before and never making much of an impact from where he was on the field.
It doesn’t look like he’s going to leave, and this will likely upset the player, who never seems to take the field in his preferred position.