Southampton got back on track with a 1-1 draw against Chelsea on Saturday and stopped a damaging run of Premier League form in the process.
Prior to meeting the Blues at St Mary’s, Ralph Hasenhuttl’s side had recorded a record-breaking six straight league defeats in a row but showed determination to claim a vital point at this crucial time of the season.
Key to the result was one real bit of quality that the Saints scored the opening goal from.
Nathan Redmond – adapting to his new role as a striker well – dropped into midfield to link the play and played a superb ball through to Takumi Minamino, who had drifted in off the left wing.
Minamino and Redmond create for Southampton
Normally a ball straight through the defence would not catch a team of Chelsea’s quality by surprise. However, the movement in the build-up was key in the creation of the chance and has been worked on in recent weeks by Saints.
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Anyone who watched the FA Cup win at Wolves would have seen similar patterns emerging – Redmond roaming around and trying to create as Danny Ings and the attacking-midfielders interchanged positions and shifted the defensive line about.
It paid off big time against Chelsea. Ings drifted out to the left and in between Chelsea wing-back Reece James and centre-back Cesar Azpilicueta, opening up space between Azpilicueta and fellow centre-back Antonio Rudiger.
The intelligence of Minamino then came into play. He sensed a gap to exploit in the backline and drove into it – Redmond’s positive play and quick thinking putting him through by meeting the run with the required pass.
Minamino still had a lot to do and it even looked like he had waited too long to shoot at one point.
What he did though was wait for goalkeeper Edouard Mendy and Azpilicueta to commit themselves and go to ground before poking a lovely finish in with the outside of his foot.
Progress was made this weekend in the form of a positive result for Saints, but it is attacking progress which is being seen directly on the pitch.