Football is a game that, at the end of the day, is simply about scoring more goals than the other team. That simplicity is why it’s the most popular game and most watched sport in the world. And that means that there is just one universal truth: you can’t win if you don’t score. (The obvious exception is a penalty shootout, but that’s more a question of competition structure than fundamental game theory.)
Chelsea have more than ably demonstrated this base concept recent weeks, losing not one, not two, but three times by a 0-1 scoreline (plus once by an essentially same 0-2 scoreline), often at home, even. On Saturday, we mixed it up, and lost away, by those very same patterns of play.
Head coach Frank Lampard, the man ultimately responsible for Chelsea’s results, has been growing increasingly frustrated right alongside the fans.
“It’s because we didn’t score. [...] We control, we create but we don’t score.”
“We can’t practise finishing or entering the final third any more than what we do. We have to be more clinical and the players know that.”
José Mourinho once boasted that winning 1-0 is the easiest thing. That conceit relied on the assumption that defending is easier than attacking. Chelsea used to prove Mourinho correct all the time.
Now we’re proving him correct once again, just with the reverse approach. We’re making it very easy for opponents to defend. Newcastle, like West Ham, like Bournemouth, like Southampton, defended deep, with 10-11 players behind the ball at all times. Such tactics are commonplace because they often produce results. But against Chelsea, they’re producing results at an extraordinary rate.
It is up to us to put a stop to that, no one else.
“If we don’t score enough goals, a team like Newcastle won’t come out, they’re very organised with what they do, and you’re always open to what happened.
“We probed, we changed the play, they dropped deep so it’s not easy to run behind them so you have to move the ball from side to side quickly. At times in the first half, maybe that was a little bit slow but in the second half it wasn’t.
“When we did attack, there were so many moments where a bit of quality, the final pass, and certainly the finish wasn’t there for us today.”
The goal conceded at the very end was the sour cherry on top of an already disgusting cake, and unfortunately, Lampard didn’t exactly have an immediate plan of action beyond ... well, we tried our best.
“I can’t complain about anything from the team really. Of course we don’t want to give headers away in our box, they’re big and that happens but other than that, we gave everything we could to try to win the game.”
-Frank Lampard; source: Chelsea FC
Answers must be found, in every and all aspects.