Frank Lampard has his work cut out for him over the international break, as tries to understand how Chelsea drew to Sheffield United and how to keep these collapses from continuing into the next stage of the season.
Chelsea have to find a way to play their second halves as well as they play their first halves. The Blues have made progress since the opening day loss to Manchester United, but some combination of fitness and tactics is keeping them from maintaining leads and earning what should be the necessary, easy three points against newly-promoted sides.
1. Chelsea still can’t defend
Chelsea’s turbulent start to the season has already seen nine goals shipped in just over 360 minutes of Premier League football. When put into context, that’s 23% of the total goals conceded last term (39) under Maurizio Sarri – four games into the season.
While you can point to the attacking prowess of Chelsea’s first four opponents as the reason behind the team’s poor defensive record, the fact remains that two of those opponents are newly promoted teams. That Chelsea would concede four (emphasis: four) times in their matches against Norwich City and Sheffield United casts huge doubts over their seasonal ambitions of attaining a top-four finish come May.
Even in the match against Manchester United, to concede three in the space of 16 second-half minutes is quite simply unacceptable. When taking into account United’s record of just three goals scored in their subsequent matches against Wolves, Crystal Palace and Southampton highlights, we see just how good Chelsea’s defence made Manchester United look.
In Chelsea’s latest match against Sheffield United, two momentary lapses of concentration across the backline directly resulted in the loss of a two goal, first-half lead. Having once been one of the best defensive teams in Europe in the immediate years following Roman Abramovich’s takeover, it is sad to see just how far the club has fallen defensively.
With games against Wolves and Liverpool coming up, the likes of Raul Jimenez and Mohamed Salah are surely salivating at the prospect of coming up against Chelsea’s paper-thin backline.