Southampton shockingly defeated Chelsea at Stamford Bridge because of a signature free-kick from James Ward-Prowse, who extended Chelsea’s poor trend under manager Graham Potter.
In the last seconds of the first half, Ward-Prowse scored the game’s lone goal by looping a shot from the edge of the penalty area over the Chelsea wall and into the corner.
Chelsea has two victories in their past 14 games across all competitions due to the outcome.
Southampton, who is now without a manager, will be hoping it will catalyze their efforts to climb out of the bottom two.
Before Ward Prowse’s-goal, visitors had a great start in west London and twice came within inches of scoring. Kamaldeen Sulemana shot straight at Kepa Arrizabalaga, and Kalidou Koulibaly then stopped Stuart Armstrong’s follow-up attempt.
Raheem Sterling’s introduction at halftime gave the Blues’ lifeless forward line new energy. Still, Ainsley Maitland-Niles’ critical stop prevented the England international from tying the score midway through the second period.
Minutes later, Romain Perraud followed suit by making a great goalline clearance to stop a Sterling header from finding the back of the net, preventing Potter’s squad from scoring for the only sixth time in 2023.
When Chelsea captain Cesar Azpilicueta was hurt late in the second half after being caught in the face by Southampton replacement Sekou Mara, there was a protracted pause in play.
FULL-TIME Chelsea 0-1 Southampton
James Ward-Prowse silences the hosts as Southampton do the double over Chelsea for the first time in the #PL#CHESOU pic.twitter.com/MaNdeY0Wui
— Premier League (@premierleague) February 18, 2023
Chelsea is in crisis
Chelsea will again be perplexed about how they failed to score against a team that had kept only one clean sheet in the Premier League all season before Saturday after their shortcomings in front of goal were exposed in Wednesday’s 1-0 Champions League loss at Borussia Dortmund.
David Fofana, a January acquisition for the Blues, was given his entire debut by Potter to spruce up the front line. Still, the 20-year-old Ivorian failed to make an impression and was replaced at halftime.
The home team found it difficult to create any significant chances until around halfway through the second half, and when they did, the visitors foiled them with some amazing last-ditch defending.
After Maitland-Niles, Perraud, and Romeo Lavia all denied the former Liverpool and Manchester City player from point-blank range, Sterling, in particular, will be shaking his head in astonishment.
Late in the game, Southampton’s Gavin Bazunu denied Conor Gallagher’s attempt, ending the Blues’ hopes of tying the score.
Azpilicueta’s apparent catastrophic injury worsened Potter’s wretched afternoon, and after the final whistle, the home crowd booed him.
Chelsea spent £323M in the January transfer window.
They've won once this calendar year, scored just four goals and sit 10th in the Premier League ? pic.twitter.com/hdmRJR2bey
— ESPN UK (@ESPNUK) February 18, 2023
Graham Potter says he is not the problem at Chelsea
After the loss at Stamford Bridge, Potter responded to the jeers by saying he didn’t think he was the issue at the London club.
“After a 1-0 loss at home, whatever criticism you receive is understandable,” the Chelsea manager stated, according to the Evening Standard.
“In bringing young players into the Premier League, we have faced many difficulties throughout this trying time. It can be difficult when outcomes don’t go your way, but that’s how it is.”
“There will undoubtedly be some who believe that I am the issue. Although I don’t believe they are correct, I am not conceited enough to claim their viewpoint is unworthy of expression.”
“I have to aid the squad, keep working through a team time. Although the second-half response was positive, it wasn’t sufficient. We had to make some adjustments today, and the truth is that we underperformed in the first half.”
"I’m sure there will be people out there that think I’m the problem, absolutely. I don’t think they’re right but I’m not arrogant enough to say their opinion isn’t worth articulating…"
— Absolute Chelsea (@AbsoluteChelsea) February 18, 2023
Potter is under increasing pressure, particularly after team owner Todd Boehly provided substantial sums of money to bolster the squad in January.
Benoit Badiashile, Mykhailo Mudryk, and Enzo Fernandez made significant financial commitments to the Bridge, but nothing has been connected yet.
Chelsea won only one game in all competitions in 2023 after spending over £300 million during the winter transfer window. They have also drawn four games and lost four.
Graham Potter provides updates on Cesar Azpilicueta injury update
Following Cesar Azpilicueta’s stretcher-out against Southampton, Chelsea manager Graham Potter provided an update.
According to Potter, “he is in the best place because he is in a hospital. It’s encouraging that he is awake and talking to his wife.”
“We’re pretty worried, especially since it just happened. He’s hopefully in the greatest possible position, and we’ll keep an eye on him.”
Later, the head coach said that he thought Azpilicueta was unconscious following the incident.
“I believe he was, so we must take all necessary safety measures to ensure his well-being. It was a bad occurrence, worrying.”