Chelsea may be unbeaten in nine straight now (not counting a penalty shootout), but throughout that run, but we’ve spent much of that run searching for the right balance of attack and defense. When the former was working, the latter was in shambles, and when we figured out the latter, the former disappeared.
But in the last two games, we’re starting to show signs that we might just be figuring things out. Granted, Krasnodar are a mid-table Russian Premier League side at the moment and Burnley have yet to win a game all season, but we could’ve just as easily slipped up as when we gave up three goals each to West Brom and Southampton.
The 4-0 scoreline in Krasnodar belies the defensive effort of the team, with Chelsea holding on to just a 1-0 advantage for the majority of the match. Similarly today, Chelsea were able make a one-goal lead stick, this time with dominant work in midfield, before making the points safe in the second half.
All-in-all, plenty to be pleased about, for fans, players, and the head coach alike.
“I thought it was a very complete performance.
“It’s a tough place to come here and play, they make it very difficult. You know you have to defend your box well, you have to be very strong with the first and second balls. I wanted that to be one focus and the other to be to keep developing the way we play on the ball. That is what really pleased me today.
“Some of the passing and the movement in the team from minute one, to the end of the game was very good. [...] I really enjoyed [...] some of the angles we were making, receiving the balls through the lines and it was more positive and aggressive in our style of forward passing. I think that is part of the process and work. It is a nice step forward and we need to continue.”
Attack is the best form of defense, as they say, though sometimes defense is the best form of defense, especially in the Premier League where every team has the quality to hurt you. We probably got lucky that Ashley Barnes wasn’t able to chip Édouard Mendy early on, when Kurt Zouma misplayed a high ball — then again, lifting the ball over Stretch isn’t exactly easy — but otherwise, it was a solid display at the back and even better further upfield.
“There was certainly balance there today and we worked on that. [...] I don’t want to jump to conclusions at the end and say that our balance is now done as you have to keep working on that. But, when you are getting clean sheets, when you are scoring goals then you are going in the right direction.”
Of course, it’s one thing to know where the balance is and how to find it, and it’s another thing entirely to keep hitting our marks, to stay coherent at the back, to control the midfield, and to keep creating chances up front. We will have tougher opposition to face, so the work and the constant improvement from all involved must continue if we are to fulfill our ambitions.
“It feels like a nice step forward. I keep talking about the work we need to do, we are nowhere near the end of the road with that, so the performance was a really solid win.”
“[...] the clean sheets are a great sign of a spine of the team, Thiago and Edouard Mendy have massively helped that, but the group, the way we are defending with the mentality, today was really positive on the ball. I’m not going to jump and up and down after a win like this, but it was a really positive day.”
-Frank Lampard; source: Football.London
Certainly something to bring us a bit of cheer as the rest of the world around us descends into the latest bit of political and pandemic drama.