The story of Chelsea’s season and of Frank Lampard’s tenure continues to be dominated by defensive shambles. Regardless of personnel, regardless of age or team selection, regardless of team shape, we have conceded far too many goals — far too many even for an attack as good as we had going today to overcome on a regular basis.
“There is certainly a game management element of it in a game. We want to have a lead and see it off. We turnover the ball that led to the free kick and then it is the second balls. There’s a lot of elements that led to it, you can recreate that in training and talk about it a lot but it is very disappointing when it happens.”
And so it was that a fantastic day from Timo Werner, Kai Havertz, and Christian Pulisic was wasted by comical defending, a non-existent midfield, and, eventually tired legs and minds against Southampton today.
“Yes, I am frustrated and the players are. They would be because the first half was as good as we have played this season. Very much so, we played some great football. Get some good goals and we could have had some more.
“When you concede before half-time, you know that can change the tone of the game a lot. Then, we go 3-2 up and concede a late goal from a free kick.
“It is disappointing, you want to pick up points at home against teams like Southampton, irrespective of them being a good team who can make things very difficult for you. In the second half, we could have dealt with it better. [...] They wanted to put us under pressure in our own half. I felt like we tried to make too many short passes in our own half, which gave them the possibility to win it back there.
“The message was for the players to miss that out, I don’t think we did enough and that made it much more difficult for us to have the control that we did in the first half. What you want when you are 3-2 ahead is to make sure you see out the game, that is obviously the disappointing factor from our point of view.”
It would be easy to point fingers, and all three goals conceded certainly had their individual culprits — just like in the other recent 3-3 draw, at West Brom. But when the issues are so systemic, so often repeated, and so frequently resulting in dropped points, the answers just might lie beyond the individual error.
“Change needs work on the training ground, we haven’t had much of that so sometimes the work in progress is in games and today there were loads of great things from the 4-2-3-1, particularly in the first half. In the second half I wouldn’t blame the shape of the team, more that we didn’t deal with the fact that Southampton were really keen to put us under pressure in their own half. We wanted to miss out their press, we didn’t do enough and that meant we turned the ball over in our own half, which irrespective of shape is always a problem.”
-Frank Lampard; source: Football.London
The result is especially frustrating as just before the international break, it looked like we were making some solid progress. Now it’s back to our bad ways. We’ve been here before, many times in the last however many months. Hopefully soon we can actually turn the corner.
We may be a young team, a growing team, that’s had to deal with a lot of new faces, a ton of injuries and a weird preseason — not to mention the whole pandemic — but no one said this would be easy.