Chelsea are young, and young teams tend to be inconsistent. It’s one of the reasons people say you can’t win with them. At least not consistently — though some college football and college basketball programs in the USA would easily prove that to be not true at all (granted, they play other young teams).
In any case, one obvious symptom of that sort of inconsistency is playing up or down to the level of the opposition. Older, more experienced teams aren’t immune to this either — and a lot can depend on the manager in that regard — but Chelsea had put this into stark relief with recent performances against Manchester City, Ajax ... and West Ham.
Tonight against Aston Villa however, Chelsea showed quality independent of the level of the opposition, especially in the second half, which would’ve turned into a blowout were it not for the magic gloves (not again!) of the veteran Tom Heaton in the Villa goal. Head coach Frank Lampard was rightly pleased with the reaction of his charges from Saturday’s disappointing home goose-egg.
“In terms of the team I saw, it was the team I wanted to see. Against West Ham it wasn’t - probably the one game this season where we have been below par in the basics. Today I thought we played really well.”
“For me and for us, I saw us go to Manchester City and trade with them like a big team who was in and around that level. Then I saw us play against West Ham and not have that, and you are going to lose games in the Premier League. Then I saw a recovery today to get back to where we are.”
With 25 shots, 9 on target, and an xG once again north of 2.0, Chelsea were certainly good value for the win, but a single-goal advantage hasn’t been comfortable since Mourinho’s 2004-06 edition, and our current levels of defending don’t come anywhere near those mythical heights. And that’s fine, as long as the team can execute the primary directive, which is to outscore the opposition, and preferably by a significant margin.
We’re still working on that latter bit.
“We should have been a little more comfortable at the end. We were the better team, we created a lot of chances. That has been a pretty regular story of our season. We need to be more clinical.”
“I am happy but I want more. We have had a pretty good start because most people probably expected us otherwise. But I want more all the time and I think that the last week has been a good example of that for us. [It] shows me where we are to have a real potential to getting where we want to be, but also aware of the little tough bumps and across the road that we are going to have to overcome, because we are young and slightly transitional and that will only show itself as we go along. That will only improve if we improve every day.”
-Frank Lampard; source: Football.London
Always improve, always work — it’s an easy message, it’s an obvious message, it’s a needed message.
Chelsea had just one win in five coming into tonight. Now we have two in six, maintaining a solid gap to fifth place, and can start a new winning run. Next up are struggling Everton, who were put to the sword by Liverpool in the Merseyside Derby at Anfield and have dropped into the relegation zone. They may even be without manager Marco Silva by then.