Frank Lampard and Jose Mourinho

The standards and expectations have gone back up at Stamford Bridge this season. However, each Chelsea performance so far has ended with positives but always left a reminder as to how much work is ahead for the Blues. 

They left the pitch with the same feeling last night as Tottenham advanced to the quarterfinals of the Carabao Cup on penalties. As José Mourinho finally got the better of Frank Lampard in their fourth meeting in the dugouts, with the help of Eric Dier’s toilet break.

It would have been difficult to imagine a stalemate come final whistle as the Chelsea players trudged off with a 1-nil lead at halftime, considering the ease with which they dictated the tempo of the game against a deep block.

Indeed, Mourinho was showing his experience amidst a grueling run of four games in eight days and conserved energy, playing long with a high press in the second half as they executed their game plan with a late Erik Lamela equalizer taking the tie to penalties. It was classic José and the oldest trick in the “How to win a cup-tie” book if there ever was one.

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Erik Lamela
Erik Lamela wheels away to celebrate his 83rd minute equalizer. (Tottenham Hotspur via Getty Images)

The Positives continue to pile on for Chelsea but they are yet to have a complete performance this season. Frank Lampard’s men were in complete control in the first half as their midfielders were allowed to look up and pick a pass with minimum pressure. The early domination resulted in Timo Werner’s first goal for Chelsea with a well-taken finish from the edge of the box as Edouard Mendy and Ben Chilwell enjoyed their full debuts.

Eventually losing a derby on penalties after a game of two halves leaves a bad taste for the Blues. However, it tells the story of the lack of continuity in personnel and performances.

A hard-fought win over Brighton on opening day preceeded a second-half capitulation at home to Liverpool, before defensive woes were once-again punished in a 3-3 fightback at West Brom following the thrashing of Barnsley last week.

Lampard has been cautious with the fitness of many of his players who endured a disjointed preseason amidst quarantine procedures and the international break after a short summer rest.

Nevertheless, he is yet to ever settle on his main team as there have been 20 different defensive combinations conceding 60 times in only 41 Premier League games in charge. Furthermore, he has to integrate six new signings into the team.

Chelsea do lack consistency and the team desperately needs a core and base on which to operate. Lampard will be looking forward to the squad catching up on match fitness as was exposed in the second half while Christian Pulisic and Hakim Ziyech return to boost his attacking options.

Although the individual errors linger in defence, Mendy showed enough during the 90 minutes to prove he can be a robust presence between the sticks while Chilwell enjoyed another beneficial runout. With a consistent selection, this Chelsea team can develop properly and improve on its weaknesses

Lampard only must trust and stick to his strongest team.

Bolu Alabi-Hundeyin
September 30, 2020
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Bolu Alabi-Hundeyin

Chief Editor of the Football Castle, Bolu Alabi-Hundeyin is a football junkie and writer of the beautiful game.

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