Five things we learned as Chelsea’s quality shone through against Southampton

Chelsea and Southampton tend to have controversial and tight encounters and this game was no different. The two Dutch managers, shared a half of dominance and Chelsea piled on the pressure during the second 45.

The league is a lost cause for the Blues this season, but each performance as good as this is reassuring of the momentum that Guus Hiddink has built up during his second spell at the club. Champions League and FA Cup ties are the priority for Hiddink in the remainder of the season, as they continue to repair the damage done by the first half of the campaign.

Ronald Koeman’s Southampton are still in pole position to claim a Europa League place, but this result has stunted their brilliant run of late and been a setback after West Ham won earlier in the day.

Losing as many players as Southampton have makes it a huge challenge to continue to compete and their new functional approach must be applauded.

We have five things we learned…

Hazardous road to recovery..

HazardMid

Eden Hazard showed glimpses of being back to his early 2015 best at St Mary’s. Most notably, the Belgian was causing Cedric problems down the left flank during the second half and looks like a player regaining his confidence.

A quiet first-half can’t have done much for his own self belief, but the Belgian continues on the long road to full fitness and his performances are improving week on week.

T-bo flawed

Courtois

All goalkeepers will make mistake, but Chelsea fans will rightly be concerned with the regularity of Courtois’ mistakes during this season.

Asmir Begovic might wonder why he hasn’t had more of a chance and the big Belgian made a crucial mistake today, as he was too slow to come off his line to stop Southampton’s first goal.

Long live best of the rest

ShaneLong

Shane Long is one of the hottest properties for the less financially blessed Premier League sides and he, once again, proved why.

His lucrative moves to both Hull and Southampton saw people raise eyebrows, largely due to his patchy finishing, but his tireless running is a huge asset to sides like Southampton.

Long netted another goal today and his pace is crucial when Charlie Austin or Graziano Pelle are the other starting centre forward.

His scurrying runs and tenacious pressing make him a nightmare for any centre-half.

Loan failings for Blues

Swansea City v Southampton - Barclays Premier League

Chelsea’s loan system gets a huge amount of coverage and it is becoming increasingly painful for the decision makers at the club as their former youngsters prove themselves at the highest level.

Ryan Bertrand is joining Romelu Lukaku and Kevin de Bruyne in the ‘ones that Jose let get away’ category and his continued form for Southampton must be frustrating.

Chelsea had to resort to playing an attacking midfielder at left-back after Baba Rahman, who looked to have settled more of late, had a poor first half where he made a big mistake that lead to a goal.

Big Virgil

Virgil van Dijk (centre)

Virgil van Dijk has been a revelation since he joined Southampton from Celtic.

The towering centre-back provided another strong performance, despite some unfair criticism for Chelsea’s first goal, as he dealt with the physical threat of Diego Costa and had to work as a member of a three man central defence including a full-back.

Jose Fonte has been a rock for Southampton, but their recent exceptional defensive record has been down to the team as a whole and Van Dijk is crucial.

Bigger clubs may come calling for Saints’ best players again this summer and Van Dijk will be high up on the list.