Chelsea 0 Southampton 1: Blues' horror run continues and down in TENTH after losing to managerless and bottom Saints | The Sun

RUBEN SELLES did not even warrant a mention on the official team sheet but nobody at Chelsea will forget his name for a long time now.

Southampton’s wannabe manager went down a storm on his audition for the job full time by winning his first Premier League game in charge.

And the backbone his team showed in withstanding a second half onslaught suggests his position might not be temporary for long either

A characteristic free-kick striker by James Ward-Prowse condemned Chelsea to yet another frustrating weekend and another game without scoring a goal.

Chelsea were roundly booed off at half time. And despite a massive upturn in the second still look disjointed and dishevelled most of the time until they were jeered off at the end too.

Potter’s American bosses are keen to point out they are with him for the long haul but there must come a point when they need to put results before the long term vision.

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Chelsea have won only one game this year now. Southampton can celebrate their first league double over them since 1988. 

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Chelsea started with a striker in David Datro Fofana, took him off at half time and Potter tinkered with his team throughout but still could not find a way to beat the Premier League’s bottom club.

And there was a serious body blow when captain Cesar Azpilicueta was carried off on a stretcher in a serious condition after taking a kick flush in the face 17 minutes from time. 

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Azpilicueta was taken off on a stretcher after taking a kick to the faceCredit: Reuters
The Spaniard applauded fans on his way off the pitchCredit: Getty

The spirit Southampton showed in clinging on for an entire half when the club is in a state of flux was in stark contrast to the dreary and soulless football from Potter’s team – at least in the first half.

The introduction of Raheem Sterling, back from injury, after the break ignited Chelsea but that again only serves as an indication of how this record-spending club is struggling to gel.

Sterling is a relative old-hand having arrived last summer, with eight new players signing in the meantime. Yet still nobody to put the ball in the back of the net. Kai Havertz has scored only once in ten games now in his makeshift role up front.

While Selles led his team in celebration in front of the jubilant away end, Chelsea’s players sheepishly trudged around the centre circle before sloping off down the tunnel in embarrassment.

Former fitness coach Selles is auditioning for the role and according to his fans on the south coast can make players run through brick walls for him.

He took charge of one EFL game back in November after Saints sacked Ralph Hasenhuttl and is back in charge following the axing of Nathan Jones. The solution may have been under the club’s noses all the time.

Chelsea ended up superior as far as the stats are concerned with more shots and more possession but luckily football is not just a numbers game.

When the chance came for a snatch at goal. There is always one man Southampton can turn to in skipper James Ward-Prowse.

As soon as Stuart Armstrong was upended by Chelsea captain Cesar Azpilicueta 25 yards from goal there was an air of inevitability about what happened next.

Curling a shot over the wall to beat Kepa at his right hand post was still a tough take but Ward-Prowse has radar vision from a dead ball.

Sterling’s return was really when Saints’ players earned their match fees and confirmed claims that Selles is Mr Motivator.

Ainsley Maitland-Niles laid down in front of a ferocious Sterling shot to block a goalbound ball on 68 minutes.

Three minutes after that came a magnificent rearguard action from Romain Perraud to deny Sterling again.

Sub Kai Havertz escaped down the left wing and dropped a cross to the far post where Sterling had brilliantly evaded his marker.

The diving header was heading for goal at 100mph only for Perraud to throw a leg in the eway and divert the shot to safety.

But it was the sight of the French defender pummeling his chest and high-fiving team-mates that gave the clearest indication of just what it meant to him and Southampton to still be clinging onto the lead for their caretaker boss.  

When it comes to commitment and putting your body on the line here are few who can compete with Azpilicueta. Chelsea’s long-serving skipper has won it all in 11 years at the club and can usually roll with the knocks.

Yesterday though, a kick in the face from Sekou Mara with 17 minutes left was just too much to take.

The Spaniard took the forward’s boot flush in the face from an overhead kick and he was knocked out cold. Play was held up for almost ten minutes for treatment before he left the field on a stretcher.

Applauded off by both sets of fans, ref David Coote added 12 minutes of time during which it was frenetic stuff.

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The eventual final whistle triggered an angry reaction from Chelsea fans who have seen their team score only six games in the last 14 games now.

Sadly for Selles, Southampton’s epic victory is a welcome boost but they remain at the foot of the table.

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