London (AFP) – Chelsea’s charge towards a Premier League top-four finish under Thomas Tuchel stumbled in a 1-1 draw with Southampton, opening the door for Liverpool to potentially retake fourth spot when they host Everton later on Saturday.
Tuchel remains unbeaten in seven games since replacing the sacked Frank Lampard last month.
But the German endured some of the same frustrations that Lampard suffered earlier in the season as the Blues domination of the ball created little, while one slack moment defensively cost them two points.
On-loan Liverpool midfielder Takumi Minamino did his parent club a favour by opening the scoring with a cool finish after sitting down Edouard Mendy and Cesar Azpilicueta on 33 minutes.
Tuchel sent on Callum Hudson-Odoi for the second-half but was less than impressed with the England international as he was replaced just 21 minutes later by Hakim Ziyech.
By that point the visitors were level as Mason Mount converted from the penalty spot after he had been chopped down by Danny Ings.
“We brought in Callum Hudson-Odoi but I was not happy with his attitude, energy and counter-pressing. I took him off and we demand 100 percent,” Tuchel said.
“I feel he is not in the right shape to help us. I was not happy with his body language.”
After losing six consecutive league matches for the first time in their history, even a scrappy point was a welcome boost for Southampton.
Ralph Hasenhuttl’s men even came closest to a winner when Jannik Vestergaard’s header looped onto the crossbar.
A draw takes Chelsea a point clear of fifth-placed West Ham, who host Tottenham on Sunday.
Liverpool are three points off the top four in sixth, but could rise to fourth should they win the Merseyside derby by three goals.
Any sort of victory would do for Jurgen Klopp’s men after three straight league defeats and just two wins in their last 10 in the Premier League to end any realistic hopes of retaining their title.
Everton have not won at Anfield since 1999, but the Toffees will rarely get a better chance to end that long wait in front of empty stands.
After a run of 68 league games unbeaten at home, Liverpool have lost their last three.
Burnley were the side to end that historic run in January, but they failed to find a way past 10-man West Brom despite enjoying the man advantage for an hour after Semi Ajayi saw red for denying a clear goalscoring opportunity with a deliberate handball.
The Baggies have won just once in 13 games since Sam Allardyce took charge to remain second bottom and 11 points adrift of safety.
But it was West Brom who had the better chances to take all three points as Mbaye Diagne smashed against the bar, while James Tarkowski cleared Matheus Pereira’s shot off the line.
A point edges Burnley nine points clear of the drop zone in 15th