Joe Cole said there were a number of ‘half mistakes’ which led to Southampton’s opener in Chelsea’s 1-1 draw at St Mary’s and accused Kurt Zouma of ‘switching off’ as the ball was played into Takumi Minamino for the goal.
Thomas Tuchel’s unbeaten start remained intact with the result but the German cut a frustrated figure on the touchline and it was the hosts who drew first blood in the 33rd minute of Saturday’s hard-fought Premier League clash.
Nathan Redmond found some space on the edge of the centre circle before splitting the Blues’ defence in two with an incisive through ball and Liverpool loanee Minamino kept his cool with a sublime finish to break the deadlock.
Mason Mount, arguably Chelsea’s player of the season, equalised from the penalty spot after being brought down inside the box by Danny Ings and the points were shared as the match finished all square.
Reflecting on Minamino’s goal, ex-Chelsea and England star Cole told BT Sport: ‘Chelsea were in complete control and it was the first time Southampton have even got at Chelsea.
‘They started to get a bit of possession but Chelsea were so dominant. That one moment.
‘If ever there was a welcome to the Premier League for Thomas Tuchel that’s it because he would have been sitting there thinking about what red wine he’s gonna have for dinner because this is going to be three points.
‘And the quality of Southampton, Redmond and Minamino… opened up Chelsea once and you’re 1-0 down.’
Analysing Minamino’s ‘exquisite’ effort, Cole said: ‘It’s the first time under Tuchel that this space in the midfield was Southampton-dominant, Chelsea weren’t on it.
‘And the reason for that is a lot of half mistakes here. Alonso does well, he gets on Redmond and he keeps on going backwards.
Kovacic, defensive instincts, should have got back in next to N’Golo Kante but he doesn’t do that for whatever reason. It’s the first time he didn’t all game, to be fair.
‘It was a lovely one-two from Redmond and as the ball gets played in, now you’re talking about margins in football.
‘Azpilicueta has a look to see where Danny Ings is so it’s good play. He’s trying to switch on, he’s trying to marshal his defence.
‘I feel for Kurt, when you’re in the middle of a back-three you can sometimes switch of because there’s nobody to mark but switches off is exactly what he does.
‘Minamino recognises there’s just an inch of space and he runs into it and then it’s all about the quality of pass.’
Cole said it was the kind of finish that Liverpool will have hoped to have seen from Minamino after bringing in the Japan international from Red Bull Salzburg just over 12 months ago.
‘The finish was exquisite and it’s what we should have seen from him as a Liverpool player,’ he added.
‘But he’s here, he’s found a home and it’s a great finish.’
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