Chelsea once again looks as bad defending as they look good attacking. It must be great for the neutral, but for Blues fans, it’s an uncomfortable watch.
After yet another defensively inept performance, Frank Lampard is clearly undecided on what his premium backline partnership is. We’ve seen in recent games many individual errors that have cost vital points. If Chelsea is to have any hope of success this season, these mistakes must be eradicated from the player’s games.
There would appear to be a complete lack of trust between those at the back and every mistake magnifies the problem. Of course, the current fall guy is Kepa Arrizabalaga and with new signing Edouard Mendy missing through an injury picked up in a pointless international break, the hapless Spaniard was once again in the firing line.
Having taken a comfortable lead with two well-executed Timo Werner goals, the Blues, not unusually, imploded at the first sign of trouble. This issue has been long-standing and reflects the club’s reluctance, it would appear, to properly address its defensive woes. This pre-dates Lampard’s appointment reaching back to when Antonio Conte was at the helm.
The manager himself though must shoulder some of the blame as well. The constant swapping and re-jigging of his defense give little opportunity for partnerships to be blended and confidence to be gained. The lack of leadership in the center of defense adds to the problem. Obviously, Thiago Silva was missing, but the fact we are reliant on a 36-year-old to shore up defense speaks volumes.
That said, the Brazilian himself, was guilty of an error that led to a goal against West Bromwich Albion a few weeks back. No one is infallible but these sloppy errors must stop. Lampard will be fully aware of that and must put it right.
Yesterday, a mistake by Kai Havertz effectively put Danny Ings through on goal. Arrizabalaga came out to narrow the angle but the Southampton man simply took the ball around him. The problem was, as has often been the case, that one goal led to another. This time it was a sloppy back pass by Kurt Zouma left Kepa in no-mans-land having to decide between attempting to get the ball and risk conceding a penalty or hope it came to nothing at all.
He chose the latter and after some comical pinball football, the goal was conceded. Zouma’s reaction was clearly to lay the blame at the goalkeeper’s feet. Whilst Arrizabalaga, Andreas Christensen and Cesar Azpilicueta attempted to stop the ball from entering the net, the Frenchman watched on. Of course, it could be argued Arrizabalaga was partially to blame, however, it was once again the result of a mistake by an outfield player that led to the opportunity being created.
The final goal conceded was the result of a deflection and it’s difficult to blame Arrizabalaga for that one either. As it stands, until there is enough confidence and trust in each other at the back Lampard’s best form of defense lies in attack.
Timo Werner and Kai Havertz looked imperious going forward and that’s before we consider Christian Pulisic and Hakim Ziyech’s lack of game time. One thing is for certain with Chelsea this season though, watching them will hard work at times and a joy at others.