Chelsea escapes Craven Cottage, earning three points by the hair on its metaphorical chin. Here are three lessons we learnt.
Chelsea faced London rivals Fulham on Saturday and took all three points, per usual. Although it was an unconvincing display, the team got the job done overall. The Blues put on an unconvincing performance against the Cottagers, and although the job was done, questions are being asked. Chelsea was hardly in control of the game the game, but no end-product came from it. However, a red card to the opposition tipped the balance in favor of Frank Lampard’s side, which allowed the team to take more risks as the match went on.
Here are three of the lessons we learnt from the match:
1. Mason Mount is Chelsea’s best player
This is not a question or a comment, at this point, it is a fact: Mason Mount is Chelsea’s best player. It wasn’t just the goal—although it was magnificent—it was the Englishman’s overall play that makes him the best player right now. The midfielder has being carrying the attacking sense of the team for a while now. His positioning, ability to run to the open space and willingness to that extra push to create chances are what make him stand out in the team.
Against Fulham, Mount was the only player willing create chances, and he ended up getting a goal for his tremendous efforts. While all attacking players were missing chances and shooting straight at the keeper, Mount was selective and creative in the final third. His goal was a stroke of pure brilliance as he saw an open gap and took his shot, which swirled away from the keeper and rattled the back of the net.
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Mount was also brilliant when he was creating chances near the opposition’s goal line. It did not matter if he was on the left or the right; his interplay with the wingers and the forwards was mesmerizing. The Englishman looked for open spaces, the over-lapping run and the final pass—something his teammates cannot say. It was when he couldn’t do any of the aforementioned things that he took it upon himself to score. It is clear why Lampard is relying on Mount. However, it is also the clear that the team needs to improve and not wait for Chelsea’s brilliant No. 19 to do it all.
2. Something needs to be done about Timo Werner
Timo Werner was subbed towards the end of the match, but he missed a few golden opportunities. When Werner came on, the Blues were set on either scoring more goals to seal the deal or doubling down on present score. That meant Fulham would attack, and Chelsea would play on the counter. Therefore, Werner was brought on to finish the job either way. He failed to do so.
The German striker had a breakaway, and good positioning, but failed to capitalize. The first chance came on a counter, which turned into a one-on-one with the keeper. The second was a matter of control inside the box, which he did not have. Both could have been opportunities to finish the job, but Werner was unable to.
That being said, this is a difficult situation for any manager to deal with. On one hand, Lampard can bench him, but that will only add pressure every time Werner goes on the pitch. On the flip side of things, keep playing him, which can cause him to lose faith in himself even more if he keeps missing at this level. Nevertheless, something needs to be done about Werner. He is a fantastic player with great capabilities, but it is clear that he is lacking in confidence at the moment. If Chelsea wants to get its money’s worth, Werner needs to improve and start scoring.
3. The Blues have to improve
The Blues may have won the match, but it was not because they earned it. Despite controlling possession, creating more chances and having more shots at goal, Chelsea could have easily lost this match. Before the red card, the Blues were all over the place with poor pressing, sloppy crosses and little understanding between some players. On the other hand, Fulham took advantage of the situation, played defensively and pressed Chelsea to make mistakes. It worked. In fact, if not for the missed opportunity in the first half, Fulham could have taken the three points fairly easily.
Only a few players were not mediocre. This has been the case for some weeks, and today was no different. There was no desire to try anything new, even what the Blues were trying was not working. Furthermore, every pass, cross and attempt at goal was careless and sloppy. This is not because the team was confident that it was going to score. It can be argued that Chelsea only won because the opposing team had one player less on the field. Fact of the matter is, the Blues have to be better.
What are some of the things you learnt in the match? Let us know in the comments or on Twitter!