Frank Lampard’s homecoming — and Chelsea’s first game at Stamford Bridge after a dozen games on the road in all competitions (including the preseason friendlies) stretching back to last season — did not go according to plan.
Lampard: "It felt great (walking out for the first time again). It was obviously a bit special managing the club, and to come back to Stamford Bridge... Thanks very much to the fans, but I'm here to try and win games."— Dan Levene (@danlevene) August 18, 2019
It started well enough. With emotions and spirits running high, Chelsea came out of the blocks with pace and purpose, putting Leicester City to the sword repeatedly. Pedro almost opened the scoring inside of a minute, rippling the side-netting, but it didn’t take long for the back of the net to ripple as well, with Mason Mount pressing high, winning the ball, and scoring past Kasper Schmeichel in the 6th minute. Chelsea could’ve added to the lead several times, but Mount, Pulisic, and Kanté all saw great chances go begging or saved spectacularly by a goalkeeper’s face or a left back’s toe.
While no team can be expected to keep up that sort of effort for 90 minutes, Chelsea started dropping off about halfway through the first-half, and were distinctly second best after the restart. By the end of the 90, we probably were lucky to keep a share of the points as the visitors knifed through the wide open spaces in midfield and defense.
Understandably, Lampard was not too pleased with how his home debut as manager turned out, even if the one point earned was the first point of his Chelsea managerial career.
“The first 25 minutes is how we want to play. The rest of the time isn’t how we want to play. Credit to Leicester for that. The second half we left far too many spaces for them. They’ve got good individual players who can really hurt you.”
Chelsea running out of steam was unfortunately not all that surprising, given that Lampard made just one change from the starting lineup in Wednesday’s grueling and high-tempo Super Cup against Liverpool, including a third start in the space of eight days for all four defenders, plus Jorginho and Pedro as well. To their credit, none of the players looked nearly as useless as Willian in his first minutes of the season, but that was not saying much unfortunately.
Lampard on drop in energy from Chelsea: "We couldn't sustain the period of the early part of the game. I don't expect 100mph for the whole game, but when you rest, I expect to keep possession better." Describes it as a special moment to be back at SB. #CFC #CHELEI— Nizaar Kinsella (@NizaarKinsella) August 18, 2019
While Lampard didn’t want to use the tiredness excuse — it was his team selection after all! — he knows that results eventually have to get better, especially if we cannot even take confidence from the way the team performed on the pitch.
“I hate the tiredness excuse but it has to be a factor. We turned the ball over too many times. I still don’t want to use it as the overriding excuse.
“It’s a results business. The performance against Manchester United made be happier overall compared to today. We have to have game management. That’s something for all of us to work on.”
-Frank Lampard; source: Football.London
Lampard targeted three wins from three after the Super Cup. Today’s draw makes it all the more imperative to collect maximum points in the remaining two games until the September international break, against Norwich City (away) and Sheffield United (home), two of the newly promoted teams. Chelsea do have a week’s rest now, so hopefully next weekend we won’t see a repeat of today’s precipitous mid-game drop in effort and quality.