Another day, another home defeat. Chelsea have now lost three of our last four Premier League home matches and lost five of the last seven Premier League matches overall.
In comparison, meme club Manchester United have lost two of their last ten Premier League matches — although they have a lot more draws. Still, the numbers are quite concerning.
Just like West Ham and Bournemouth, Chelsea faltered at home to a team in the bottom half of the table in a narrow loss that we could have won easily had we played at even 70 per cent of our capacity. Just like the performance, Lampard was a broken record in the post-match press conference.
"It felt the same as recent home games. Credit to Southampton, they were organised, they got their goals and got the win but we know we can do much better. We need to be better at breaking teams down. It was the same story as a few of the last home games.
"It was flat and Boxing Day can bring that a little but that can’t be an excuse for us on the pitch. Things like shots and crosses get the crowd excited but we didn’t have any clear-cut chances and we need to show more in terms of bravery and quality on the ball.
"We haven’t been clinical in front of goal, that’s something we have to improve on. It’s a busy time for everyone, so tiredness isn’t an excuse, we just have to learn from this and improve quickly."
Of course, Lampard is correct in speaking about the lack of clear cut chances. However, that shouldn’t be too surprising if you play three at the back, with two holding midfielders and two subpar wing-backs (one of whom was carrying a knock), leaving all the attacking impetus to a front three against two disciplined lines of four and a team that often defended with all eleven players in and around their own penalty area. The formation, and in turn the players, may have done wonders against Spurs, but against a team near the relegation zone, it failed spectacularly. (Ed.note: similar pattern to Wolves away then Valencia at home, win 5-2 then lose 1-0, when we first tried the 3-4-3.)
Part of that problem was created by two late injuries to two wing-backs who might have otherwise started.
“Marcos Alonso picked up a muscle injury against Tottenham but hopefully he’ll be back for Arsenal. Reece James won’t – he has an ankle issue at the moment.”
To his credit, Lampard changed to four at the back and introduced Mason Mount at half-time, but it unfortunately did not change the performance itself too much. Christian Pulisic couldn’t change the tide either after replacing the ineffective Callum Hudson-Odoi halfway through the second half. Lampard’s final change, Pedro for Willian, felt like the final nail in a coffin more than a hopeful throw of the dice, the manager throwing his hands up in the air like Tammy Abraham, starved of proper service, did far too often.
At times, it felt like even if Chelsea played another 90 minutes, we would still not be able to break down Southampton, who had entered the match with the joint-worst defensive record in the Premier League. And that’s a real concern, to say the least.
"I felt we controlled a lot of the first half. We had a lot of the ball, which you tend to do with three at the back, but then when you go down 1-0 you’re thinking about getting an attacking player on the pitch.
"Mason Mount has been feeling under the weather a bit in the last few days but he came on and we looked brighter in the second half but still gave them a couple of counter-attacks.
"We need to reproduce what we did against Tottenham on a regular basis, we need to be better at home and that’s the challenge for us at the moment."
While Chelsea's form has been Jekyll and Hyde for a couple months now across all competitions and close to flat out atrocious in Premier League, it's not exactly time to press the panic button quite yet. We're still fourth in Premier League. We just need to get back to our old days.
"I’m relatively happy overall but I would say that much more after Tottenham rather than today because we’re disappointed. It taints it because we’re not doing it at home in front of our own fans and we want to make it a fortress at Stamford Bridge like it has been in the past.
"Some of these results and performances don’t surprise me so we have to keep some perspective because we have a lot of work to do.
"You need consistency to finish in the top four because it’s the Premier League and everyone is striving for it. Clearly we need to win more than we have done recently at home."
-Frank Lampard; source: Chelsea FC
Next up for Chelsea is Arsenal at Etihad on Sunday. We can only hope the pattern of trading wins and losses holds, and we come out on top to close out 2019 on a more hopeful note.