WHEN Saints last went into an international break, they did so in optimistic mood on the back of an impressive win.

This time the circumstances are very different.

They will be stewing on their latest home defeat for the next two weeks.

The hunger and desire that earned Saints their 2-0 win at Crystal Palace five weeks ago was was conspicuous by its absence yesterday. The divisions within the Premier League were all too evident as Saints chased shadows against Maurizio Sarri’s streetwise Blues.

Saints’ failings against the Premier League’s elite continue (they have now gone 26 games without a win against a top-six side).

But they were up against a Chelsea side that will surely be challenging for the Premier League title come May.

Of more concern is the continuation of Saints’ lacklustre home form.

The attendance yesterday was just 27,077, the lowest of the season at St Mary’s.

It reflects Saints’ record of just two points from four Premier League games at home this season.

A tweet doing the rounds yesterday pointed out that Leicester City have won more games at St Mary’s in the last ten months than their manager’s first Premier League club.

Saints’ only home win since last January remains the 2-1 victory against AFC Bournemouth last April.

Which brings us to the daunting prospect of their next game, away to a Cherries side ensconced in the top six after their 4-0 win at Watford, and two other key matches before the trip to Manchester City on November 4.

October could yet be a good month for Saints.

Take four points from their next two games - a trip to Bournemouth before Newcastle United’s visit - and yesterday’s result will soon be forgotten.

Bournemouth will be relishing the ‘derby’, but the next game at St Mary’s already has a season-defining look about it.

Fail to make home advantage count against struggling Newcastle and the alarm bells really will begin to ring.