Being reduced to ten players against one of the Premier League’s finest ever sides was a task too much for Lampard’s Chelsea to survive on Sunday. And for a team in flux with a lack of preseason to integrate new signings, not to mention a sizable injury list, this fixture against Liverpool could not have come at a worse time.
Given those circumstances, it would be a tad unfair to fully judge Lampard and Chelsea. A month from now, this squad will have stabilized (hopefully) and a better picture of the team’s best XI should be more visible. Lampard’s counting on that as well.
“Normally with new faces, you get a month or so of pre-season to work on your patterns of play and how you want to play so we have to have time. Every team that is successful in the modern day has had time and a process so now our process starts here.
“Last year was a squad where we couldn’t do much business so we worked and worked to come fourth. Now it’s a new start — our objectives are higher, our expectations are higher and that’s fine. It will take some time but today I saw a lot of character and spirit.”
Defeat is of course never a welcome result, but growth, as they say, can only come by learning from mistakes. And there will be plenty of growth opportunities from this one for all involved.
Lampard tends to keep things relatively level and rational during his press briefings, and that was true after this defeat as well, as he expressed pleasure with the team’s performance in the first half.
“There were a lot of things I was happy about with our defensive game. I wanted us to be better on the ball. We showed moments on the counter-attack where we were dangerous, Timo had a couple of good opportunities but to limit them to the chances they got in the first half, there were a lot of things I was pleased about.”
“I’m disappointed to lose three points as you always will and should be but I’m actually happier today in many ways than I was at Brighton. I saw spirit, desire to defend by a lot of our defenders – Reece James, Kurt Zouma, Fikayo Tomori when he came on.”
“The midfield were giving everything to block gaps and you play half a game with 10 men, you don’t make that mistake for the second goal, you score the penalty - then it’s 1-1. I know that’s not football and I can’t reflect on that but those are the realities. The players should take heart, it’s how we go forward from here now.”
Lampard’s supposed happiness level compared to the victory at Brighton strikes a bit curious and performative, though the midfield and the backline did look relatively solid for the first 45 minutes. Liverpool’s corners were dealt with rather smoothly, and only a few moments truly looked threatening.
And speaking of positives, Timo Werner’s performance was one of the few happy takeaways to glean from from today’s match. For much of the first half, he posed a serious threat to Liverpool’s backline, making runs in behind the space of Trent Alexander-Arnold. And he would of course win the penalty late in the second half, which Jorginho (surprisingly) failed to convert.
Timo Werner completed five take-ons against Liverpool, more than any other player on the pitch.— Squawka Football (@Squawka) September 20, 2020
A promising display in difficult circumstances. pic.twitter.com/ZXp8Zvh6h9
Frank has good reason to be happy with Werner. Through the first two matches thus far, Werner has shown how much a benefit his speed will bring to the attack this season — provided we can find him a bit more often.
“I’m very pleased with his start. We brought him to the club for the attributes that we’re seeing – speed, individual moments and we will see goals from him. In the second half it was difficult for him but he came up with a moment that could have got us back into the game. I’m delighted with him and we’re going to see a lot more.”
One other positive takeaway from the match will be Fikayo Tomori, who hasn’t played since before the COVID-19 lockdown. For the past few weeks, rumors had circled that Tomori was on his way out on loan to Everton or Rennes. However, Tomori has remained at the club and not only found himself included ahead of Antonio Rüdiger on the substitutes bench, he put in a solid shift in the second half after Andreas Christensen’s dismissal just before half-time.
It’s unclear if this means anything more substantial for the 22-year-old’s future, but it sounds like Lampard doesn’t really want to lose him.
“We now have five centre-halves at the club and I can’t pick a squad that has three of them on the bench so that’s the way it is. I have to pick the squad from training and different situations and that was a selection one today.”
“I went with Tomori [as a substitute] and he did really well when he came on. He hasn’t played for a while and has been struggling with fitness like most of the squad but I was delighted with him. He started last season as the fifth-choice centre-back in most people’s eyes and played more than 20 games for Chelsea so I hope he feels the trust in him.”
- Frank Lampard, source: Chelsea FC
It is still early days for the 2020-21 Premier League season. A loss is never a good result, let alone one to Liverpool. However, the future still looks bright once key players return from injury (and arrive from France ... *cough*Mendy*cough*).
Onwards and upwards!