Chelsea’s clean sheet streak was broken inside of the first ten minutes on Saturday, when a bit of miscommunication between Hakim Ziyech and N’Golo Kanté gave Sheffield United a free cross, which was eventually finished off with a hockey-style deflection by David McGoldrick.
We all knew that the streak would eventually end. The question was how we would respond. McGoldrick had a brace last time we met, but surely we weren’t in for another 3-0 shocker, which Lampard described on Friday as one of our worst last season, with the Blades beating us in “every department”.
Looking back, there was no chance of that happening today. Chelsea’s response to going behind early was exemplary, perhaps our best performance of the season, even.
“I think now with the performance today it was our best performance of the season for sure in complete terms.”
Chelsea may have conceded for the first time in six games, but we are now unbeaten in eleven, winning the last four by a combined 14-1 scoreline. The system is clicking in every stratum, from safe goalkeeping, solid defending (except that bit of set piece calamity throwback), a dominant midfield, and a creative and free-scoring attack.
But as we know, this is just the beginning. We may be third at the moment, halfway through the 8th matchday, with the most goals scored and the best goal difference in the league, but this isn’t the goal we’re looking to achieve.
“People were looking at where we were at and people were very quick to look at goals conceded or not getting the wins. I think people expected that pretty quickly if I’m honest and I didn’t. We had some injuries and we had the idea of people coming in and had to work to get better very quickly.”
“We’re in a good place but there’s a level that’s been set by Liverpool and City in the last few years means you have to be in that good place every game and every week and that’s the gap that we have to close. I certainly won’t jump ahead of myself albeit I’m very pleased with a lot of the signs today.”
-Frank Lampard; source: Football.London
The proverbial (and also very real) gap to Liverpool and Manchester City has been a constant theme of Chelsea managers since Antonio Conte’s second season in 2017. For the first time since then, it feels like we’re finally not only on the right track, but making forward progress.