Chelsea did not make easy work of relegation-zone tenants Fulham on Saturday, but considering that Fulham had taken more points from their last five games (5) than Chelsea (4), perhaps that was not surprising in the least bit. Even though we’ve had nearly two weeks to work on tactics and such, the Blues showed little in the way of improvement from the Manchester City loss and our recent run of results in general.
Fortunately for us, Fulham missed the best chance of the game when Ivan Cavaleiro fluffed his lines worse than Timo Werner, and then they shot themselves in the foot when Antonee Robinson was sent off for a reckless and dangerous tackle on the stroke of half-time. Chelsea spent almost all of the second half camped in Fulham’s half of the pitch and eventually forced through a goal when Man of the Match Mason Mount hammered in a rebound, having hit the crossbar in a similar situation earlier.
Three much needed points then, which if we were more involved in a title-race, we’d call one of those “hard-fought” three points that all title-winning teams must grind out on their off-days. As it stands right now, it’s more of an indication of how much we still need to improve, in just about every respect.
“Fulham are tough to beat and dangerous in attack. The challenge against 10 men was different. [...] It’s a challenge even a man down. We got the goal though and could have got more.”
“I won’t say I was blown away with the performance. There were lots of bits I was happy with, but we won’t get too ahead of ourselves.”
-Frank Lampard; source: BBC
Yeah, I don’t think anyone was blown away by that performance, Frank, and if anything, it just raised more questions about certain decisions being made, such as leaving Callum Hudson-Odoi on the bench, again.
Lampard raving about Mason Mount's 'outstanding' performance and wanted to highlight how unlucky Hudson-Odoi was to not start.— Nizaar Kinsella (@NizaarKinsella) January 16, 2021
He admitted he also 'had Leicester in mind' with his team selection. #CFC #FULCHE
Lampard’s starting lineup was rather surprising, featuring just three changes from the Manchester City loss, and not exactly the ones we had been expecting. Veterans Anotnio Rüdiger, Olivier Giroud, and Jorginho were drafted in, in what seemed like an effort to rely on “experience” and “leadership” but what predictably turned into staid and stodgy play on the pitch instead.
Lampard gone for all his leaders tonight - Azpi, Rudiger, Jorginho, Giroud are the big dressing room/training ground personalities. Not the line up many fans would have gone for but there is logic behind it. CHO and Gilmour particularly unlucky.— Matt Law (@Matt_Law_DT) January 16, 2021
It were the kids who eventually made the difference — Hudson-Odoi off the bench in particular. Lampard’s last two starting lineups have made a slight mockery of the praise he had been receiving for the Youth Revolution™, though he defended his decision today by pointing to the game coming up in just three days, Leicester City away.
“[It’s a significant win] only if we back it up. It feels good tonight.
“We went on a really good unbeaten run, went two points off the lead, and then we took a hit in a short period of time. We can’t think everything is solved, because it’s not solved, and we want more.
“I keep saying we’re in a period of transition, we know there are new players, we know we are trying to find solutions in how we’re playing, but we need to get points because it’s Chelsea.”
-Frank Lampard; source: Sky
If we keep winning, these decisions (and performances) will be looked upon much more kindly.