While there were several reasons Frank Lampard and Chelsea couldn’t compete for the title last year, the leaky defence was the main one. No team can ever win the Premier League conceding 54 goals in 38 matches, it’s just inconceivable.
However, no team can win without a potent attack either, and it’s that balance in a team that makes title-winners. Chelsea fans will be delighted, then, that manager Frank Lampard appears to have found the balance in his.
Chelsea: Lampard Seems to Have Found Much-Needed Balance
Poor Early Start Defensively This Season
Chelsea did not cover themselves in glory at the start of the current season, either. A scrappy 3-1 win over Brighton & Hove Albion was followed by a loss to Liverpool and 3-3 draws with West Bromwich Albion and Southampton.
Conceding three goals apiece to two sides just wasn’t going to cut it, and Lampard knew it. Of course, the presence of Kepa Arrizabalaga in goal, who seemed to cost his side at least a goal every game, didn’t help. The shaky and inconsistent Andreas Christensen at the back didn’t either.
Key Arrivals Solidified Backline
Despite all of the money spent on big-name attackers, perhaps the two biggest signings Chelsea made this summer were Edouard Mendy and Thiago Silva; the former for £20 million and the latter on a free.
Silva, despite his age, is a world-class centre-back. He brings immense leadership and composure to the backline, and he is a wonderful example for Chelsea’s young, homegrown squad.
Mendy is simply a solid and reliable keeper. He’s good in the air, has adequate distribution, and commands his box effectively. The Senegalese is a massive upgrade on Kepa, who ticks none of these boxes.
Mendy is arguably the most important player at Stamford Bridge, simply due to the level of his replacement. While not the most flashy, or even the most talented, of goalkeepers, he has played a huge role in stabilising the backline.
Defensive Focus Led to Attacking Woes
During his entire first season at Chelsea, Lampard had never seen a 0-0 result. After the 3-3 draw to Southampton, he saw two in one week. The Blues stood firm and kept clean sheets against Sevilla and Manchester United, but their attacking play suffered.
There is a simple explanation for that: Lampard put all his focus on the backline. He realised that with the quality he has up top, he has nothing to be worried about. But if his defence didn’t get their act together soon, it was trouble.
For that reason, Lampard was happy with many aspects of the 0-0 draws. He was confident the free-flowing attack would come, and the past few games have proven him right.
Lampard Has Found the Balance at Last
They put four past Krasnodar in the Champions League, before comprehensively beating Burnley 3-0. As a part of this congested fixture schedule, they played another Champions League match against Rennes in midweek, winning 3-0 again. To top it all off, they ran riot over Sheffield United on Saturday, despite going behind to an early goal.
Even with Havertz and Christian Pulisic, two massive sources of creativity, out of the team, the Blues created chance after chance and never let up. They were in complete control, barring that one miscommunication which led to the Blades’ goal.
With Ziyech looking a threat, Havertz and Pulisic returning, and Werner continuing to get goals, the attack looks more than set for the time being.
However, the most important part is that the defence looks set for once, and that should be a very scary sight for the rest of the league.