EPL 2016/17, Chelsea 4-2 Southampton: 5 Talking Points
Eden Hazard opened the scoring in the fifth minute, firing the ball into the bottom corner after some excellent hold-up play from Diego Costa. Southampton were level midway through the first half, Oriol Romeu tapping home from close-range after Manolo Gabbiadini’s shot was saved by Thibaut Courtois.
Gary Cahill, however, restored Antonio Conte’s side’s lead on the stroke of half-time and Costa added two more after the interval. Former Chelsea full-back Ryan Bertrand headed home a consolation in stoppage time for the Saints.
#1 Diego Costa ends goal drought at the perfect time
N’Golo Kante was crowned PFA Player of the Year on Sunday, with 2015 winner Hazard finishing as runner-up. Fellow nominees Alexis Sanchez, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Romelu Lukaku and Harry Kane have all enjoyed fine seasons for their respective clubs, but it was difficult to argue with the voters’ choice.
At the halfway stage of the campaign, Costa looked to have as good a chance as anyone of receiving the honour. A return of 15 goals in his first 20 Premier League appearances played a massive part in Chelsea’s rise to the top of the table, but reports of a big-money move to the Chinese Super League seemed to throw him off course around the turn of the year.
After finding the net in a 2-0 win against Hull City in January, Costa failed to score in his next four outings in all competitions; he then struck in consecutive games against Wolverhampton Wanderers, Swansea City and West Ham United, before going seven matches without a goal prior to Tuesday’s clash with Southampton.
When Costa sloppily ceded possession twice in the early stages, it looked like things were going to continue in the same vein. The striker kept plugging away, though, and improved as the game wore on. His first decisive contribution came in the form of an assist for Hazard’s opener, as the former Atletico Madrid man impressed with his combination play throughout the first half.
Costa then got in on the act in the second 45 minutes, first heading past Fraser Forster to make it 3-1, then slotting the ball into the corner after a terrific team move for the fourth. The 28-year-old has rediscovered his scoring touch at just the right time.