Chelsea drew Sheffield United, in a game where the Blues should have won without any difficulties. One constant throughout this, and other games, is that Chelsea were too central and did not use the width available to them.
Frank Lampard has a lot of work in his hands after a poor result against newly promoted Sheffield United. Chelsea played well in many parts of the pitch by being patient and waiting to break down the opposition’s defense. Tammy Abraham scored two goals that, from a striker’s point of view, were well taken. He took advantage of two awful mistakes from the Sheffield defense, showing he can be deadly running with the ball and inside the box.
The midfield played well in terms of passing the ball around the opposition, creating chances and getting out of trouble. Jorginho and Mateo Kovacic covered defensive spaces for most of the game. The two midfielders alternated when the time came to attack by making runs forward and dangerous passes. On the other hand, Mason Mount, despite having a quite game, was always looking for the forward pass or run.
However, Chelsea are failing at one crucial part of the game: utilizing the wings.
Frank Lampard has one of the brightest talents in the world at his disposal with Christian Pulisic. Yet we have not even seen a glance of what the American international can do, and there is one explanation for that: Chelsea are playing the ball at the feet of the players rather than the space in front of them.
Throughout the entire game, Pulisic either had to come short to receive the ball and make an immediate pass, or simply keep running back with it. In this regard, Chelsea are losing fire power going forward.
Without the wingers pushing wide to either cross the ball or cut inside, the attack was solely going through the middle of the park. This makes the team predictable to defend against and gives the opposition confidence from knowing they can move forward without having to worry too much about how to defend.
Although the offense suffers, so does the defense. By having the wingers come short to receive the ball, the full backs are the ones who have to overlap. This creates too many openings for the opposition to exploit. In many instances Cesar Azpilicueta and Emerson were caught attacking and failed to get back to their position.
Although the Chelsea skipper, Azpilicueta, has refrained from overlapping too many times, Emerson has the pace and agility to do so many times over. But against Sheffield, Emerson was nowhere to be found when the Blades were on the counterattack. This caused problems for the defense and the midfield by leaving both areas exposed and unprepared.
This was hardly their fault since it is impossible to ask Azpilicueta and Emerson to be in two places at the same time. Therefore, it falls to the manager to direct how the team plays, who goes forward and how they go about it precisely.
Frank Lampard needs to start thinking about the attack from the wings. Although he has done an excellent job with the midfield and forwards, without the wingers being more involved in or around the box, Chelsea won’t secure any game no matter how fluid their attack is.
The wingers need to receive the balls in areas where then can run at the defenders rather than having to cut back. They also need to run alongside the forward from time to time in order to create one-two passes and open up the defense.
Chelsea’s game is still a work in progress and the one thing it needs desperately is balance all around the field. Frank Lampard needs to change a couple of things in order to make the team function efficiently.
Until he figures out specific tactics, the Blues will continue dropping points they shouldn’t.