Saints came from 2-0 down to secure a priceless point at Stamford Bridge. Nigel Adkins came with a game-plan to frustrate Chelsea, but at half-time it looked as if the match was over. Saints showed a lot more ambition in the second half however, and fully deserved the draw.
Nigel Adkins switched things up in his original team selection. Saints lined up with three central midfielders, with Steven Davis coming in alongside Jack Cork and Morgan Schneiderlin. Cork generally operated as the deepest of the three. The more defensive minded Guly Do Prado was preferred to Gaston Ramirez on the left, with Jay Rodriguez leading the line.
Saints limited Chelsea during the first 15 minutes, sitting back with everyone behind the ball. The home side only threatened from distance. Saints looked to hit on the counter. Jason Puncheon had the first chance for the visitors, heading well wide from a Guly cross. Saints defended well, but could only hold out for 25 minutes. Cesar Azpilicueta's cross bounced around in the box, before Demba Ba volleyed into the bottom corner of the net. After half-an-hour Saints started to put together some good passing sequences in the Chelsea half. Steven Davis dragged a shot wide from a Rodriguez cut-back in the area on 35 minutes. Chelsea stepped it up towards the end of the half. Frank Lampard and Ramires had shots blocked, before Lampard fired wide. The Blues did eventually find a way through on 45. Saints missed a number of opportunities to clear the ball before Ramires blasted against the bar. Eden Hazard was there to finish on the rebound.
Saints took a slow and methodical approach to their play at the start of the 2nd half. Adkins' side showed a lot more ambition, with full-backs Nathaniel Clyne and Luke Shaw pushing on. Saints were completely wasteful from set-pieces, but looked good on the ball throughout. On 55 minutes Rickie Lambert was introduced for Jay Rodriguez. The number seven made an immediate impression, pulling a goal back just three minutes after coming on. Guly started the move, winning the ball on the left-hand side. He squared the ball to Schneiderlin, who drove into the middle towards Lambert. The ball then made its way down the right to Nathaniel Clyne, who got the better of his man before crossing for Lambert to head in. Chelsea came steaming forward immediately after the goal, with Oscar firing over on 58 minutes. Ba had a shot clear the bar on 67, before Lampard struck a free-kick just past the post. On 74 minutes Gaston Ramirez came on for Guly. It was another inspired move from Adkins. Moments later Luke Shaw made a driving run down the left-hand side, before cutting the ball back across the edge of the penalty area. Ramirez let the ball run for Puncheon, who flicked the ball up before hammering it into the corner of the net. Chelsea were on the front-foot for the final 15 minutes, but struggled to create too many clear cut chances.
A brilliant point for Saints. Before the game few could have foreseen such a result. At half-time things looked even more desperate. To come back and perform so well at one of the best teams in the country is some achievement. Nigel Adkins got it spot on with his selection, substitutions and tactics. Saints limited Chelsea, but also threatened at the other end. Tactically we are improving by the week, which is a real testament to Adkins' work on the training ground. We're a real unit, who know how to attack and defend as a team. We were brushed aside away from home at the start of the campaign, but now we look capable of taking points at most grounds. Saints are now four unbeaten away from home, and have lost just twice in the last twelve overall. Only Man City and Man United have picked up more points in 2013. It's all very encouraging, and with Adam Lallana and Jose Fonte to come back, in addition to a couple of new signings, things can only get better. There's still a lot of work to do, but if we stick to the same principles, we'll be more than alright this season.
Boruc: 7. Looks more commanding with every game
Clyne: 8. Brilliantly defensively and going forward. Provided a number of great crosses, including one for the goal
Yoshida: 7. A difficult one to rank. Arguably partially to blame for the Chelsea goals, but otherwise very good
Hooiveld: 7. Another very solid display, made all the right decisions
Shaw: 8. Barely put a foot wrong. Helped to set up the second goal, and defensively sound
Cork: 8. Always looking to receive the ball, dropping back into defence to bring the ball out from the back
Schneiderlin: 9. Ran the show in midfield. Dictated play with a great range of passing. Brilliantly defensively too
Davis: 6. Passing not always perfect, but tactically very good.
Puncheon: 8. End product added to his hard running. Great finish for the goal
Guly: 6. Solid, but unspectacular down the left-hand side. Started off the move for the first goal
Rodriguez: 6. Worked hard, defending from the front
Lambert :7. Instant impact from the joint-top English scorer in the Premier League
Chaplow: 6. Steady display in the middle of the park
Ramirez: 6. Killed a lot of time towards the end of the game. Was clever enough to win a number of free-kicks