Following their 2-2 draw with Arsenal Tuesday, Chelsea manager Frank Lampard said in an interview, “We could have had three or four goals today…Having shots, crosses and lots of ‘ooh’ moments. But we have to be clinical. When gameday comes you have to have the killer instinct. We’ve not got that at the moment” perfectly summing up Chelsea at the moment.
Chelsea Sputtering Attack to Hinder Top Four Hopes
Twice in the past 72 hours, against Arsenal and Newcastle United during the weekend, Chelsea racked up an impressive 19 shots in each match and only two goals in total. And only once did they score from open play, the other a Jorginho penalty against the Gunners.
Chelsea’s attack for the past 180 minutes banged its head against the wall over and over to no avail. Willian and Callum Hudson-Odoi sent in cross after cross and never once did Tammy Abraham get on the end of it for a goal- if it reached him at all.
The attack sent in cross after cross and failed to convert. However, the more frustrating and curious aspect is why the players never tried to change their approach. Willian and Hudson-Odoi never switched sides, not even for ten minutes to give the opposition a different look.
Is it the naivety of a young team or of a young manager? Or, was it the plan to persist on their respective wings?
The attack recently is lacking creativity and finishing. Chelsea are controlling games and taking plenty of shots, but a low percentage of shots are actually on target. Worse, they aren’t scoring many of their chances. And because of it, the Blues are dropping points, only taking one of a possible six in the last three days.
Slim Fourth Place Lead Stays Slim
At the same time, the west London side have failed to extend their lead for the last Champions League spot. During the weekend, Manchester City, Leicester City, Manchester United, Sheffield United, Spurs, and Arsenal, aka all of Chelsea’s top-four challengers excluding Wolves, all dropped points.
But did Lampard’s side take advantage of the opportunity? No. Instead, they allowed a stoppage-time winner on a second ball not cleared from a corner and walked away with zero points.
And Tuesday, they were lucky to walk away with a point. David Luiz’s return to Stamford Bridge ended in the most David Luiz way with a red card in the 26th minute for pulling down Tammy Abraham in the box on a clear goal-scoring opportunity.
Arsenal played the next 60+ minutes down a man and with Ganit Xhaka as a makeshift centre back and Chelsea couldn’t secure maximum points. Not only that, they relinquished the lead twice against the run of play.
With Sheffield United losing to Manchester City, Leicester facing a trap game hosting West Ham Wednesday, and Tottenham hosting a possibly reinvigorated Norwich side the same day, Chelsea may have once again failed to take advantage of their top-four rivals dropping points.
Chelsea’s youthful exuberance which benefited them so prominently this season, see the 4-4 heart-stopping draw with Ajax if you want to test your health insurance, is slowly turning into a burden called inexperience.
By the end of the season, the Blues will regret not extending the gap between them and fifth place at this point in the season.
Quick Turn Around Needed
The attack has to start firing again, but Tammy Abraham getting helped off the pitch after the match is bad start. Add in Christian Pulisic out for another few weeks and Olivier Giroud inching closer to a transfer away from the club and the attack is getting pretty thin.
Whether Chelsea buy a forward in January or not, the attack has to improve. The attack needs more creativity and that right now falls on the manager and the veterans to switch up the approach. If a new signing joins in the next ten days, he’ll need to reignite the attack and do so quickly.
After this draw with Arsenal, Chelsea face Leicester, Manchester United, Tottenham, and Bayern Munich in the Champions League. All of those matches are at home except for Leicester, but that makes Chelsea less likely to win as they boast one of the worst home records in the league this season.
Although young, more is expected of this squad and their manager because their recent form is barely good enough to hold on to a Champions League spot. Holding on by a mere thread. Chelsea’s spot in fourth is up for grabs, especially as the attack sputters and they fail to extend the lead between them and Man United in fifth.
They have to turn it around quickly, otherwise, one of half a dozen challengers will be right there to take the final UCL spot. The lucky thing for the Blues is all the other challengers are struggling for points as well.
The race for fourth is on and Chelsea lead. For now.