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Chelsea Drop Points Against Southampton

Chelsea head coach Maurizio Sarri hinted at the need for a new striker after his side failed to break down a resolute Southampton team at Stamford Bridge.

The hosts had 72% of possession but could not find their way through a well-organised and disciplined Saints side as it ended goalless.

“I think we played a very good match for 80 metres of the pitch, then we were in trouble in the last 20 metres,” said Sarri, who has Alvaro Morata as his only recognised striker with Olivier Giroud out with an ankle injury.

“We have to try to solve the problem of the last 15, 20 metres. The club knows very well my opinion. I think we need something different for characteristics.

“I’m not in charge of the market. I have to try to improve my players, my team, my offensive phase, or better my offensive phase in the last 20 metres.

“The club knows my position, my opinion. It’s up to the board.”

Sarri, who dismissed the prospect of recalling strikers Michy Batshuayi and Tammy Abraham from loan spells at Valencia and Aston Villa respectively, watched his side fail to score for the second successive home league game.

For Southampton, they kept their first clean sheet in 11 Premier League games, but still dropped into the bottom three as they fall below Burnley into 18th after the Clarets’ 2-1 win at Huddersfield.

Chelsea’s best chance fell to Eden Hazard, but his well-hit shot was saved by Premier League debutant Angus Gunn.

Morata thought he had scored when he put the ball into the net midway through the second half, but it was ruled out as he was given offside.

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Southampton offered little as an attacking force, with one Oriol Romeu shot easily saved by Kepa Arrizabalaga.

The hosts wanted a late penalty as Marcos Alonso went to ground under a challenge from Shane Long, but referee Jonathan Moss was not interested in Chelsea’s appeals.

Before the game, Sarri said the club “was in trouble” because of their injury problems and the fact they would have to play “every three days” in January.

Those problems worsened in the first half as Willian, following a strong challenge from Maya Yoshida, limped off to be replaced by Ruben Loftus-Cheek, himself only just returning to contention after a back injury.

It means the Brazilian joins Giroud (ankle), Pedro (hamstring) and Callum Hudson-Odoi (hamstring) as attacking options that are unavailable for the Blues, who could play as many as eight games this month.

Earlier on Wednesday, Chelsea announced they have signed 20-year-old Borussia Dortmund forward Christian Pulisic for 64m euros (£58m), although he will also not feature for the Blues in 2018-19 as he will be loaned back to the German club until the end of the season.

This performance shows why Sarri has opted to strengthen his squad as once again Morata failed to impress up front with the Spaniard failing to score for the seventh consecutive Premier League game.

He had a weak header easily saved after Cesar Azpilicueta’s long ball forward and looked to have ended his goalless run but was denied by the assistant referee’s flag as he was judged offside.

The draw means Chelsea are now 10 points behind leaders Liverpool, who play their game in hand, away at Manchester City, on Thursday.

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