2. A poor team setup
As cliche and easy as it is to claim that the players were devoid of fight or understanding of “what it means to play for Chelsea,” it is clear that on the day, Leicester’s players just seemed to want the three points more. The Blues were out-pressed and outplayed by a Foxes side that, at times, seemed capable of simply walking the ball into the back of the net, such was the fluidity and incisiveness of their play.
However, the reasons behind Tuesday’s embarrassment cannot be solely attributed to a lack of desire or fight when attempting to rationalise just how poor Lampard’s side have been since beating Leeds United more than a month and a half ago. Perhaps it is due to fitness issues caused by the lack of a proper preseason, or maybe it is due to Lampard’s lack of tactical acumen, coupled with a lack of time for his new signings to properly gel together. The truth is most likely a combination of these factors, creating the conditions for a perfect storm that Lampard currently finds himself in.
Against Leicester, a few things immediately stand out from a tactical point of view, the first being Lampard’s inability to organise his front line and his midfield into a cohesive pressing unit. Chelsea’s press often lacks the energy and coordination to simultaneously press the player on the ball and cut off his immediate passing options, resulting in a press that often looks half-hearted at best and completely useless at worst. With the forward line so easily by-passed and the midfield constantly caught out of position through an ineffective pressing system, Chelsea’s back line then suffers frequently from opposition counters.
Another obvious area for improvement has to be Chelsea’s ineffectiveness when going on the offensive. With Lampard often emphasising a need for his creative players to find solutions on the pitch, it is clear that the Blues’ offence relies heavily upon the forwards crafting out goal-scoring chances with Lampard’s tactics geared more towards getting said players into positions of promise. On paper, especially with the addition of various creative outlets in the summer, this is a sound enough idea that even managers such as Jose Mourinho employ to this day. However, with Lampard’s constant chopping and changing of the front line, it is difficult for any of Chelsea’s forwards to build solid relationships with one another. Moreover, the likes of Timo Werner, Kai Havertz and Hakim Ziyech still need more time to not just adapt to the team, but to the league as a whole. In a system so heavily reliant on the forwards finding solutions on their own, inconsistencies are going to be inevitable.
That said, Chelsea’s struggles in attack have opened up even more avenues for criticism of the manager ,alongside problems in defence and in executing a decent press. Circumstantial or otherwise, Lampard does not have much time left to find himself a cohesive attacking unit which could well decide his future at the club.