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Thomas Tuchel’s changes inspire Chelsea to vital Southampton win

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Having seen his side limp to tame defeats to both Manchester City and Juventus, Thomas Tuchel decided he’d had enough.

Frustrated with his preferred lineup’s lack of creativity and hunger, he opted to make plenty of changes for Saturday’s visit of Southampton.

At the back, Trevoh Chalobah came in and allowed Cesar Azpilicueta to push forward into the wing-back role, opposite forgotten man Ben Chilwell, who replaced Marcos Alonso down the left-hand side for this one.

Jorginho was rested and replaced by Ruben Loftus-Cheek, while Callum Hudson-Odoi and Timo Werner joined Romelu Lukaku in attack.

They all proved to be the perfect alterations from Tuchel, who will have been delighted with the manner in which Chelsea cruised to a 3-1 victory against Southampton.

Tuchel, who was particularly animated throughout this game, clearly sent his side out with purpose. He wanted a reaction from his players, who were all over Southampton early on and deservedly took the lead through Trevoh Chalobah’s header.

The Blues didn’t sit back after that and kept the pressure on. The midfield pivot of Mateo Kovacic and Ruben Loftus-Cheek were outstanding – the latter was particularly impressive – and a subtle tactical tweak from Tuchel was to thank for that.

Full-backs Chilwell and Azpilicueta were encouraged to play more centrally at times, offering more cover for their midfielders in a similar way to those at Manchester City under Pep Guardiola. That extra freedom, which was required because of the absence of N’Golo Kante, was huge.

Chelsea barrelled forwards, with Hudson-Odoi and Werner proving to be willing runners throughout, and the Blues were unlucky not to be three or four up at the break. Lukaku and Werner both had goals ruled out, the former for offside and the latter for a harsh foul in the build-up.

Southampton’s switch to a three-man midfield after the break threatened to make things awkward, and Chilwell’s decision to scythe down former Blue Tino Livramento for the equalising penalty wasn’t wise, but Chelsea rode the wave of momentum and got themselves back into it – aided by James Ward-Prowse’s red card.

Thomas Tuchel

There was plenty of positivity after that. Tuchel had been complaining in the build-up that his players, for some reason, were not feeling themselves during matches, but that wasn’t the case here as they chased after their vulnerable prey like the lions they wear on the front of their shirts.

Werner got the goal he deserved, and Chilwell covered his back with an excellent volley to secure the three points for Chelsea.

From start to finish, there was just more urgency and more desire about this Chelsea side than their had been in the previous two games. Loftus-Cheek, Hudson-Odoi and Werner made notable differences, and substitutes Mason Mount and Ross Barkley helped up the tempo as well. I know, Ross Barkley in a Premier League game.

There are still a few issues to solve – Lukaku still felt like an outsider at times – but Chelsea had their mojo back here, and Tuchel deserves credit for picking the players capable of providing that.