The next goal Chelsea concede in the Premier League will be our 50th this season, and if that sounds like a lot, it’s because it is. In fact, only once have Chelsea reached that mark since 1997 (we don’t talk about that season, and with good reason).
Despite that, Chelsea are still in with a good chance of finishing in the top-four to meet expectations for this season, and that’s probably a minor miracle. We’ve conceded 50+ goals five times since the inception of the Premier League, finishing 11th, 14th, 11th, 6th, and 10th. Conceding that many goals simply isn’t conducive to success, especially in the modern era.
Regardless of how this season turns out, the defensive problems have to be ironed out if we are to truly start closing the gap to the elite teams. Fortunately, head coach Frank Lampard claims to not only be aware of these issues — having possibly heard accusations to the contrary — but also to have an idea, or at least a ... feeling? ... on how to go about fixing them.
“There is a way that I want us to play and it’s not gung-ho, it’s not crazy, a lot of the goals (we concede) are the balls that come into our box that maybe we don’t defend right at that moment. That’s something that has to improve and I feel I know the answers to it.
“Some of it is work and that’s something we will see and it’s part of the process we are in. I don’t like it, I hate conceding goals but we have to work harder on it.”
Obviously, Lampard isn’t expected to lay out a detailed plan in a press conference, which makes it easy to talk in generalities. But hopefully he does indeed have some sort of a plan, and not just the whole “work harder” routine. This isn’t a problem that can be tackled just by brute force or by trying every single combination. We need some sort of a key to solve this crypto in our lifetime.
“I don’t want players to think they will be out of the team if they make one mistake, so there is a balance to that. But clearly we haven’t found that partnership in that area that I’ve settled on and that’s something we’re striving for.”
-Frank Lampard; source: Telegraph
And if none of our current combinations work, we need to break things down and start again.
Perhaps Chelsea's biggest issue is not settling on a centre back pairing with defined roles. 7 different combinations in all competitions (6 if we remove Guehi's starts). Switching CBs from one side to another is also slightly confusing. pic.twitter.com/6zDp87KHty— Tweeds (@joeTweedie) July 12, 2020