For the second time in three games, Chelsea were down and out and never in the game against a “Big Six” rival, following up Boxing Day’s 3-1 defeat against Arsenal with an even more comprehensive 3-1 defeat against Manchester City today. Outside of late consolation goals in both games, there were almost no positives to take at all from them.
Still, at least today’s defeat has given (still) head coach Frank Lampard confidence that Chelsea can pull through this “period of pain” — we’ve gone from a “funny patch” to just pure pain, and that seems quite accurate. At least Manchester City are a good team, unlike Arsenal.
“I knew there would be periods of pain we would go through as a club. In the first half against Arsenal we were lethargic and I didn’t understand it. Today, I understand that the players had a real problem in the first half because City were showing real personality and quality on the ball.”
“For 10 minutes, we were good. I’m not claiming that but it’s just the reality of the game. We conceded two really poor goals and I felt it knocked us. I felt we didn’t react as well as I wanted. There were serious lessons in the first half but we showed good character in the second but the game was done.”
-Frank Lampard; source: Sky
We could perhaps feel aggrieved that neither referee Anthony Taylor nor VAR Mike Dean deemed Rodri’s tripping of Timo Werner a foul, let alone a penalty — just another baffling and incompetent refereeing decision in The World’s Best League™. Maybe if Chelsea take the lead, today turns out drastically different. Confidence and momentum can be a wonderful performance-enhancing drug.
But City were several levels above Chelsea for the vast majority of the match, harkening back to the narrative of us having to bridge the gap to them and Liverpool. Based on this game, that gap isn’t getting smaller. It’s practically the Grand Canyon.
“We made mistakes, individual mistakes, and didn’t get close enough. They punished us. If you want to reach the top level which City have been for a few years now, you have to accept the pressures.
“The second half we competed but at 3-0 the game was pretty much done [but] I am not putting ourselves down. Today was painful in the first half in football terms because their level of play showed where we need to aspire to be. In the second half I saw a reaction, but the work needs to be done.”
-Frank Lampard; source: BBC
Lampard’s tone certainly struck a more positive and useful tone than after the Arsenal debacle, and in his interview with Sky, he specifically made a point of not criticizing the players — even while clearly blaming “individual mistakes”.
That said, obviously everyone’s disappointed and unhappy with the current run. And there’s a ton of improvement that needs to happen, in all phases and aspects. Yet, the only way forward is to work together towards the common goal and focus on the job and the situation at hand.
“We have [character to bounce back] without a doubt because we went 16 games unbeaten. A month ago everyone was asking me about where the team could go, where I could go, where was the new contract. Now people will be saying the opposite. That’s football.
“We can’t control that. What we can control is what we do tonight, tomorrow, the next day, what we do against Morecambe and what we do against Fulham.
“I have belief in the group and I hope it doesn’t sound like I am criticising the players. I will be the first to look at myself today but when I look at the squad I know there is uplift in this team. But I know where we’re at because I see it. I know the work it takes to reach the level that Manchester City churned out today. That’s been a lot of years in the making and players in the prime of their careers.”
Well, let’s hope so.