Frank Lampard’s Chelsea continued where it left off before the international break, collecting all 3 points and stretching the winning streak to 3 in the league and 5 in all competitions.
This wasn’t achieved before initial hiccups with Newcastle defending with 11 men behind the ball, successfully limiting the service from Chelsea’s midfield to attack. Tammy was often found isolated while most of the possession in the first half didn’t amount to many threatening chances. Luckily the much scrutinized Alonso came in clutch once more and rescued Chelsea from a potential banana slip with a powerful left footed strike beyond the Newcastle keeper, Dubravka later in the second half to claim all 3 points at the Bridge.
Newcastle United have previously taken points off Manchester United and Spurs this season so a result against a confident side proved encouraging for Lampard’s young Chelsea team.
“Yeah, credit to Newcastle, you can see why they’ve got a couple of big results this year. They’re organised, men behind the ball, a threat on the counter attack and in the first half we were a little bit safe and a little bit slow.
”We moved the ball side-to-side but not with enough urgency and not enough risk to take people out of the game. That was the message at half time and for the majority of the second half we did that, we were good.
”We created a lot, the combinations were good, we played between the lines more. People were going one-v-one, Callum, Willian, Christian when he came on, and there should have been more goals. It would have made the last ten minutes more comfortable.”
A lot of credit for the result goes to two players whom Lampard subbed in at the right time, one of which had to be forced with Barkley suffering a knock midgame. Kovacic and Pulisic were thrown in the game leading to a change in the formation, with Pulisic occupying the central space just behind Tammy while Kovacic fit in seamlessly in place of Barkley and linked the midfield with attack effectively.
Lampard’s half time talk deserves a mention as well since the change in the attitude of the players post half time was clearly noticeable and at the end of the game, it helped achieve 3 important points for Chelsea.
“I’m pleased with that. The players need to be brave and confident. It’s a great sign of the squad when subs come on and make such a difference. Kovacic was outstanding when you’re talking about taking people out of the game, centrally, creating opportunities.
”Christian came on in a position just behind Tammy and started to turn and get at people, which created the goal. So, I’m pleased. That’s the way we are. We have to play like that. We’re not going to go long unless it’s an option needed to change things up. It could have been an option we needed later on today but we got our reward.”
Many eyebrows have been raised worldwide, especially in Pulisic’s home country, after Lampard provided minimal opportunities to the player in the last 5 games for Chelsea.
Lampard has shrugged off any kind of bias at play and has cited more tactical and physical work to be done in training, a criteria that as been followed for team selections and that applies to every player regardless of reputation or pricetag. Pulisic showed the exact determination in changing the flow of the game when he came on as a sub to replace Mount who had a rare ineffectiveshowing. Lampard was left visibly pleased at the end of the game and showered praise on the young American.
“I’m really pleased for him. He’s a hot topic because of the price tag. Because of his status in his national team, and his world status through that. And everyone has got a little bit carried away with the short term. The long term is that he’s come here and he’s just turned 21 and to see him play like he did today, and there’s a lot more to come.
”It’s not the end story. You can see his balance and awareness and you can see how he can play. And there’s improvement to come as with all the young players, but delighted for him because he will feel good about that. And he should do because he was a big part of us winning that game.”
Callum Hudson-Odoi notched his 3rd consecutive assist in as many games in the Premier League, continuing his hot start to the season following recovery from an achilles injury. He was the main and perhaps only threat in the first half, dishing in some delicious crosses into the box, only to see them go waste due to some lacklustre finishing.
Alonso’s goal ensured Hudson-Odoi would be rewarded for his brilliant overall performance with the game winning assist. Eden Hazard’s style and contribution is almost impossible to replace but Callum might be the player to get very close to the level and charisma that delighted the Stamford Bridge crowd for the major part of the last 7 years.
“I thought he was good, really good. I agree. In terms of product on the wing and taking people on. He looked sharp, getting at people. A big threat. I am really pleased with that. The end product will come even more with Callum, another young player.
“So coming inside and getting his shots away, he was giving them a big problem so it was great to see and for the fans to see. Callum needs to carry on doing that. There is the other side of the game, off the ball. He knows that he can get better at that, and he will do. There are glimpses today of some of the special stuff he has got.”
Never a Chelsea game without a potential injury concern, is it? Lampard provided some updates on Azpilicueta and Barkley.
“I think Azpi was alright, he didn’t say anything when he came off. Ross turned his ankle. It looks a bit nasty at first glance, but the doctor wants to have a look at tomorrow. I have no more on that.”
Frank Lampard; source: Football.London
Next up- Ajax. Onwards and upwards!