For the first time under new head coach Frank Lampard, Chelsea have won back to back matches, following up the midweek 7-1 thumping of lower league Grimsby Town with a comprehensive 2-0 win over Brighton & Hove Albion in the Premier League, our first clean sheet in any competition this season. With 11 points from 7 games, Chelsea sit (un)comfortably well behind the league leaders but are firmly in the early race for a top four finish.
But there’s plenty of improvement still required, as the boss explained after Saturday’s win.
“I don’t want to get ahead of ourselves, because what we’ve shown so far this season probably is moments and patches of games of good stuff where we want to get to and then other moments where we haven’t done. So, to get overconfident at this point would be wrong on my part and the team’s part. [Saturday] was a nice step forward – one game, but a nice step forward.
“Some of the football we want to play, moving the ball quicker for most of the game, but I still feel there is a transitional element. With the young players, and some of them have made their full debut for Chelsea this season, we must give them time and they will get better.”
Chelsea’s emphasis on youth has been making all the headlines, leaving little room for the exploration of the football and Lampard’s tactics themselves. Whereas in years past, we might have worried about formation and shape, the number of defenders, or the length of passing, this season the discussion has mostly centered around the age of the squad. But at the end of the day, it’s the former that wins games. Young or old, the players need to executive the tactics properly. And in that regard, we have some ways to go yet, with more consistent tempo, aggression, and decision-making needed.
“We’re working a lot on trying to keep switching the play, moving it quickly from side to side. Sometimes, when we forget that and forget ourselves for a moment, we slow it down too much and it’s something I don’t like to see.
“I don’t think it helps the crowd or the atmosphere when you slow it down, when you go back to the goalkeeper and go across sideways when you can play forward. At times, when we were at our best, we played forward, we were punchier and sharper, and that’s what made us create so many chances.
“I like watching teams that are sharp, that move it quickly, that are physical and have energy. We have quality, so it’s about trying to put that all together.”
If Chelsea were able to put it all together, we could be looking at a very bright future indeed, thanks to a squad loaded to the brim with young, mostly homegrown talent. The past two wins are certainly a good start in that regard; now we just have to keep it going — and not just in quality of play but the cold, hard results that ultimately define success.
Next up is a tricky away trip in Europe, as Lampard & Co look to get our Champions League campaign underway after the false start against Valencia a couple weeks ago.
“For some, it will be their first taste of [a Champions League away game], and they need to learn very quickly. Anywhere in Europe, away in the Champions League is tough. There’s a mindset to it, an approach to it, and our concentration levels have to be maximum. We saw that against Valencia, where we were the better team, but we switched off for a second and lost the game.
“We need to learn those lessons fast, plus we have experienced players in the team that need to help that and the young players on that front.”
-Frank Lampard; source: Chelsea FC
Could we see a slightly more “experienced” starting lineup, with the right amount of pragmatism mixed in, on Wednesday?