Five days ago, Frank Lampard’s Chelsea had never had a scoreless draw. Now we have two. We had also never gone two games without scoring. Now, we’ve accomplished that first as well, while also keeping consecutive clean sheets for just the fourth time since Lampard’s appointment. (We’ve yet to make it three consecutive; maybe this time?)
Obviously, that’s both good and bad. Good that we’re keeping clean sheets and not conceding goals (especially self-inflicted silly ones); bad that we’re not creating much, if at all, in front of goal. Yesterday, Chelsea were credited with less than a quarter of one expected goal (xG) for all our possession and scattered handful of shots.
The balance we’re striving for remains very much a work in progress, especially now that we’ve fallen off the other side of the horse, as they say in Hungarian. We’ve gone from one extreme to another, but at least this side should give us a better base to work from, right, Frank?
“We have to be humble to that and say we need to work and get better. [But] we came here last year and, for me, we were the best team on the pitch for the first 60 minutes and lost 4-0.
“So when you look at where we want to go to and what football means, it means some of the things that we did today, it’s a real base for us to work from and, as I say, the attacking play ... we’ve scored a lot of goals this season already and that will come but today there were some good signs.”
As frustrating as this may be, Chelsea are hardly alone in being unable to figure things out so far this season. Liverpool aside, all the expected top teams are struggling a bit. After five games, Manchester United, Manchester City, Spurs, and Arsenal have 7, 8, 8, and 9 points, respectively. (Chelsea are now on 9 points as well, though from six played.) And the only team without at least one loss are surprise package Everton.
None of that excuses Chelsea’s own foibles and mis-steps, but it does provide some context that perhaps shouldn’t be ignored. It’s been anything but a normal season from the very start, any way you look at things.
“It wasn’t a classic [...] as a neutral for sure, you want more. But I think at the start of this season — I’ve been watching games, I watched the lunchtime game today (West Ham’s 1-1 draw with Manchester City), tough games — people are trying to find things and we’re the same...”
-Frank Lampard; source: Manchester Evening News
Last weekend, after a second 3-3 draw in three games, the obvious message from everybody was that we needed to improve and fix the defense, and do so quickly. Defense wins championships after all, right, Timo?
Alas, now we’ve overcorrected, and are in a potentially dangerous situation. We can either jerk the wheel back the other way and keep fishtailing until we completely spin out into the wall and probably explode, or we can stay calm, steer steadily into the spin, give it some gas, and get back on the correct course. But don’t wait too long...