Chelsea beat Southampton thoroughly at the weekend and showed how wonderful of a side they have the potential to be. Somehow, though, the defense is still peculiarly poor.
Chelsea beat Southampton in one of the better showings we’re likely to see all season. Frank Lampard is clearly finding his first XI. The players he trusts the most and the bond that is growing among the squad are yielding some wonderful football. At times Chelsea played as good football as viewers of the Premier League are likely to see, including from sides who are known for it like Manchester City and Liverpool.
Chelsea still show their age at times, and they benefitted from some truly golden luck against Southampton on a couple of occasions.
The incessant fad of playing out from the back will hopefully end soon in favor of complete and intelligent football. It beggars all belief that people in footballing circles are truly sitting around telling themselves that it’s better football, ignoring the obvious signs of players mechanically moving through dangerous situations at the expense of their own intelligence. Are we really to believe they wouldn’t rather have players who are well-coached and individually well-read enough in the game to understand that perhaps sometimes safety is the best choice?
Chelsea have been guilty of this one more than one occasion this season and it has led to goals when the team should have tidily kept a clean sheet. Surrendering a goal in a performance as complete as the 4-1 win at Southampton is a blemish on what should have been a near perfect game.
To foolishly cast aside such hard work in favor of some nonsensical passes between a full back and center back is simply stupid.
On the positive side, one particularly bright point is the triangle that has formed between Mason Mount, Callum Hudson-Odoi and Tammy Abraham. The trio are like something out of an Aesop or Rudyard Kipling fable extolling the pure joys of football.
Abraham is showing much of that himself. His goal on Sunday was exactly the sort of goal that an in-form striker scores.
Abraham had no business getting a goal like that, and perhaps in pre-technologically invested football he wouldn’t have, as his manager knows too well. But a confident striker scores more goals than the expected ones for the exact reason Abraham scored at St. Mary’s Stadium. He just hit the thing and hoped. He’s moving downhill at the moment and things are going his way. Strikers should be encouraged to shoot, they should shoot again and then be told to have another crack simply for the sake of it.
Hudson-Odoi, having finally signed a new contract, showed maturity and good judgement at several times when players his age and with his talent would have showed something else. If he continues to recover at this breakneck speed Chelsea will have sufficient talent to make a top-four challenge.
Willian continued to endear himself with another week of fantastic football and experienced performances. He is showing all those who actually watch the matches (and not those who compensate for something else on Twitter) why he has placed Christian Pulisic firmly on the bench.
Week after week the Brazilian foot-soldier continues to put in complete performances just like this one, and we see his effort and impact on the game reflected in the same qualities from Cesar Azpilicueta.
Willian covers a remarkable amount of distance every game and opens the pitch up with his vision and pace. He also remembers his defensive responsibilities and has allowed Cesar Azpilicueta to look like exactly the class of player that many of us should never have questioned his being. Both are undroppable at the moment.
The team is playing well and shows only a few signs of weakness. Frank Lampard knows exactly what those are and, for the first time in many years, we can all sit content and happy knowing that they’ll be addressed properly. The defense will come together when injuries stop blighting it and time allows the bond to form.
Until then only patience, training and teamwork will do, and that’s more than fine for now.