Frank Lampard didn’t have the greatest debut season as Chelsea manager, but one thing he did do quite well was getting the team to react with positive performances after stinging defeats — of which there were quite a few. We may have lost a whopping twelve (12!) times in the league, but only twice did we lose back-to-back games. Incidentally, the last of those was also in December, and it also began with defeat at Goodison Park. At least this time our second loss in the series wasn’t at home.
That’s not to say that the defeat at Molineux to Wolverhampton Wanderers wasn’t another sting in the tail, a once again seemingly self-inflicted collapse the likes of which we thought we had largely kicked to the curb with the reinforcements over the summer and the improvement seen since.
Chelsea once again created very little from open play — threatening from set pieces, sure, but posing little trouble otherwise — made mistakes at the other end, and left ourselves wide open for Wolves’ quick attackers to take advantage. Ultimately, we couldn’t even salvage a point, giving up a stoppage time winner to cap off a most disappointing night.
Not many positives to take from this one for Frank Lampard either.
“Disappointed to lose the game. We had it under pretty good control at the point of 1-0. I don’t think we were playing brilliantly but we had control. I thought the game was there for us to win. Then we allowed them back in the game, we allowed them momentum and we allowed them some counter attacks and we lose the game so I am clearly disappointed.”
“We didn’t play enough. It is pretty simple. The threat from Wolves is clearly the counter attack and it is a major threat from what they have got. It is the main one because they have speed and quality in forward areas. The players knew it before the game, the players knew it in game but we allowed some counter-attacks. If you are going to allow a team to play to their strengths then you may lose that game.”
Unfortunately, none of the post-match interviews pulled the head coach up on his questionable decisions, such as switching Christian Pulisic to the right after he ran Nelson Semedo ragged on the left, or persisting with a still well below par Kai Havertz in midfield when Mateo Kovacic and Billy Gilmour were on the bench, or even persisting with the 4-3-3 when a 3-5-2/3-4-3 made much more sense and would’ve allowed us to add Cesar Azpilicueta into the fray as well.
One can’t help but feel that making any of those changes once Olivier Giroud put us into the lead with our first shot on target in the game (and over 100 minutes of play, stretching back to the Everton match), would’ve helped immensely in getting us all three points today.
Sure, had we played up to the standards established during the 17-match unbeaten run, we probably would’ve won regardless of formation or substitutions. And sure, maybe a bit more luck with Zouma not hitting the crossbar or the corner that led to Wolves’ first goal correctly awarded as goal kick instead would’ve gotten us the win on another day. But on this day, we let another three points slip, and at the end of the day, that’s all that matters.
“It is my job to stay level headed at both ends. So I shouldn’t stay too disappointed tonight as much as I didn’t get too elated after Leeds on the back of a really good run. Clearly, when we perform like we did today that’s not game management and quality levels that we are striving for.
“I still think there’s a lot of improving to do within the group so I wouldn’t say I am massively surprised. What my experience of the Premier League tells me, if you drop your stance, which we have in the last two games, particularly away from home then you can lose football matches so it is a big lesson for the players there.”
-Frank Lampard; source: Football.London
I’m not sure that the lesson we need to be learning is that the Premier League is tough and that we need to play at our best to win games. We really should know that by now, having had it drilled home repeatedly in the last 18 months.
Perhaps the only saving grace of it all is that at worst, we will be just six points off the top of the league one-third of the way through the season. That’s hardly a disaster.
But we have to do better. And by we, I mean all involved.