Photo by Ben Queenborough/ISIPhotos.com
By JUSTIN FERGUSON
Less than two weeks after reclaiming third place in the Premier League standings, Chelsea fell back to fourth on Saturday following its 2-1 loss at Southampton.
The Blues entered Saturday’s match at St. Mary’s Stadium looking for revenge from their earlier meeting in January, when Southampton rallied from two goals down to draw at Stamford Bridge.
But Southampton would be the first to get on the board on Saturday. After a good spell of back-and-forth action, Jay Rodriguez broke through for the Saints in the 23rd minute after some impressive passing from Rickie Lambert and Steven Davis.
Chelsea pressed hard for an equalizer and found it ten minutes later. Marko Marin’s outswinging corner found the head of an unmarked John Terry, who easily put the ball in the back of the net.
The Blues would enjoy the level playing field for just over a minute. A quick Ryan Bertrand foul on Davis on the ensuing possession gave Lambert a chance to take the lead from 25 yards out. The English veteran, who was making his 500th league appearance, curled a shot past Petr Cech for his 14th goal of the season.
Chelsea came out after the break hungry for another equalizer, but Southampton’s defense stood tall. Victor Moses’s rejected penalty shout was just one of several close calls for the Blues in the second half. A rejuvenated Frank Lampard missed on a backheel and a free kick in the dying moments of the match, and substitute Eden Hazard saw several shots fly just wide of the target.
The win moves Southampton four points clear of the drop zone. Chelsea will try to make a quick turnaround from the disappointing road loss, their third straight in league competition. The Blues face Manchester United in a FA Cup replay on Monday before a Europa League meeting with Rubin Kazan.
Here are some more stories from today’s Premier League action:
TOTTENHAM DEFEATS SWANSEA TO MOVE BACK INTO THIRD
Tottenham got a quick start from star Gareth Bale on Saturday, riding the Welshman’s big first half to a 2-1 victory at Swansea City.
Bale, right back in his home country after scoring for the national team earlier this week, set up Jan Vertonghen for the opening goal in the seventh minute. The winger lofted a pass over Swansea’s Dwight Tiendalli, and his Belgian teammate provided a cool finish for the early lead.
After Emmanuel Adebayor missed a chance to double Tottenham’s money minutes later, Bale found himself on the end of a pass from Vertonghen. Bale took a touch before lacing a perfect shot past Michel Vorm.
The Swans’ offense showed some life after the second Vertonghen-Bale connection. Brad Friedel, who was filling in for an injured Hugo Lloris, was busy for the rest of the first half and the majority of the second. The hosts dominated possession in their usual fashion and produced more shots than Tottenham, but they could only push one goal past Friedel. Michu would head in a Ki Sung-yueng corner in the 71st minute before getting involved in a scuffle with Vertonghen.
The remaining 20 minutes of the match was marked by more heated exchanges than quality shots on goal. A Spurs assistant caused an uproar by preventing Swansea from taking a quick throw-in, igniting controversy on the touchline. The war of words between the two dugouts eventually subsided as Tottenham held on for three big points and a return to third place.
PREMIER LEAGUE SCOREBOARD
Manchester United got its seventh straight league victory with a 1-0 win over Sunderland. A 27th-minute own goal from Titus Bramble was the difference in a relatively easy win for the league leaders, who kept Sunderland in a dangerous position near the drop zone.
Manchester City recorded a 4-0 victory over Newcastle United, keeping the gap between the defending champions and rival United at 15 points. City scored all four of its goals, which included an unfortunate redirection from Newcastle’s James Perch, in the span of 30 minutes.
Arsenal also scored four goals on Saturday, keeping its Champions League hopes alive with a 4-1 victory over Reading. Gervinho led the way for the host Gunners with the opening goal and two assists against the Royals.
West Ham United snapped its four-match losing streak with a 3-1 win over West Bromwich Albion. Andy Carroll opened and closed the scoring for the host Hammers, who are now six points clear of the drop.
Wigan Athletic is now out of the relegation zone for at least a day as the club recorded a crucial 1-0 home win over Norwich City. Arouna Kone was the hero for the 17th-place Latics, beating Lee Camp near post for the winner.
Tim Howard kept a clean sheet in his return to the Everton starting lineup as the Toffees held off Stoke City in a 1-0 win. Kevin Mirallas’s 28th minute goal off of a quick counter attack was all that Everton needed to send the fans at Goodison Park home happy.
What do you think of the results? Think Chelsea will be able to bounce back from the Southampton loss with two weekday matches coming up? Do you think that Tottenham can hold onto third? Is Arsenal still in the running for a Champions League spot?
Share your comments below.