Chelsea manager Frank Lampard says his Blues side can get “a lot better” after they swept past Southampton to move up to fifth in the Premier League.
Tammy Abraham’s looping finish from Callum Hudson-Odoi’s pass gave the visitors the lead, before Mason Mount doubled Chelsea’s advantage from close range.
Danny Ings reduced the arrears from Yan Valery’s cut-back, but N’Golo Kante’s deflected effort off Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg and Michy Batshuayi’s neat finish put the seal on a comfortable victory for Lampard’s side.
“I didn’t think we started that well, even though doing so had been something we’d talked about before,” said the former England midfielder. “[Abraham’s] goal came at the right time and after that I felt pretty comfortable.
“Getting four away from home — we’re scoring — so it’s a nice afternoon. Let’s not get carried away, it’s a long season and we feel we might have picked up more points than we’ve actually got. We’ve not been at our absolute best and we can be a lot better.
“We shouldn’t be sloppy, and after going 2-0 up we should make it 3-0. We’re scoring goals, but can we tighten up? Yes.”
After a stuttering start to the campaign, there are signs that this youthful Chelsea side are beginning to build up a head of steam under Lampard. This was the Blues’ fourth successive win in all competitions – a result which lifts them level on points with fourth-placed Leicester City and only two behind champions Manchester City, who lost 2-0 at home to Wolves.
Youngsters Abraham and Mount have taken the top flight by storm after spending last season on loan at Aston Villa and Derby County respectively, and the duo were heavily involved here as the visitors raced into an early lead.
Hudson-Odoi – making his first league start under Lampard – sent a long ball over the top of the Southampton defence and Abraham was first to it, his looping finish over Gunn crossing the line before Yoshida could clear the ball to safety.
Chelsea capitalised on a poor piece of Southampton defending to double their lead seven minutes later, Mount latching on to Willian’s precise pass before slamming home his fourth goal of the campaign.
There appeared to be no way back for the Saints at that stage as Chelsea continued to lay siege to the home goal, but Ralph Hasenhuttl’s side pulled a goal back out of nothing when Valery wriggled his way past several Blues defenders before setting up Ings, who was left with an easy finish.
There was an element of fortune about Chelsea’s third – Kante’s speculative drive deflecting off Hojbjerg and wrong-footing Gunn – but the dominant visitors could have won by a higher margin.
Hudson-Odoi was thwarted by Gunn four minutes after the restart, before Batshuayi eventually completed the scoring in the final minute of normal time with a confident finish from Christian Pulisic’s through-ball.
“It’s a transitional team but we don’t have that in our heads,” Mount told Match of the Day afterwards. “We want to get as high in the table as we can. A lot of the young boys around us have played together for a long time. It’s good having these boys around you in the senior team – it’s a massive achievement and now we’re looking forward to the international break.”