Pressure builds up…
Chelsea welcomed Man City on Sunday night for the Blues first game of 2021 and MW 17 of the Premier League season. City had a squad missing a fair few players but other than the goalkeeper who was an academy product everyone else was well and truly part of the City squad. Lampard selected an exciting lineup on the face of it with Mendy starting in goal followed by Azpilicueta, Zouma, Silva and Chilwell in defence. Kante, Kovacic, and Mount made up the midfield while Ziyech, Pulisic, and Werner started up front. The attacking 3 was one that many fans had wanted to see but whether the 3 deserved to start was up for debate. Still there was plenty of optimism going into kick off.
The first 15 minutes saw Chelsea dominated play and give City no chance to get a foothold in the game. A back pass was made City goalkeeper Steffen and he picked it up which gave Chelsea an indirect free kick, but for some reason it was taken outside the box which was weird. Ziyech’s ensuing shot was deflected. Werner was then brought down in the box by Rodri but the legend that is Anthony Taylor decided not to give a penalty. That seemed to spur City on and they got their first goal in the 18th minute as Foden did good work down the left hand side to play the ball into Gundogan who turned and shot past Mendy. The 2nd goal came 3 minutes later as Foden was given a good pass by De Bruyne and the young Englishman finished at the near post past Mendy. It was all City then as Chelsea were left reeling. The 3rd came in the 34th minute after a poor pass from Kante allowed a counter attack from City and after a few saves and misses De Bruyne finally finished the rebound to make it 3. Chelsea held on for the remainder of the half as City relaxed at 0-3.
The 2nd half saw no changes from Frank but around the 60 minutes mark he did bring on Hudson-Odoi, and Gilmour for Ziyech and Kante. The two youngsters brought some fight into the game and did well to get themselves into good positions. CHO especially was very active down the left and was taking on the initiative to make something happen. Still the final shot or pass was lacking and City were able to manage. Havertz was the final change as he came on for Kovacic late on. Havertz also added some much needed creativity in the middle of the pitch and he ended up making a brilliant run and assist for Hudson-Odoi as Chelsea grabbed a consolation goal late on.
Chelsea Player Review
Mendy like much of the team hasn’t been the same during this poor run of form. The first goal he could have done better but for the rest I don’t think he had any real chance. The confidence will return when the team returns to form. Mendy did pull of some good saves in the 2nd half to keep it 3 for City.
The defensive line was all over the place in this game. For 15 minutes it looked like we had it under control but as soon as we conceded the 2 goals it looked like our heads dropped. The first 2 goals came down Azpilicueta’s side and it was evident throughout the game that his pace was not made to go up against City. Several players had joy against the Spaniard. The defence needs to regroup and find that solidity they formed in the earlier part of the season. The 2nd half was better than the 1st in what was little consolation.
The midfield was all over the place in this game, and it was probably where we lost the game as well. Kante looked like he had played a game too many as he over compensated for several of the presses and his poor pass led to the 3rd goal. Kovacic was a passenger for much of the game while Mount didn’t really have any real impact either. Gilmour did come on for Kante in the 2nd half and he did bring some much needed energy into the midfield and a bite to the game. Havertz made a late appearance but his movement looked good and he got an assist for CHO’s goal as well.
Pulisic was probably the best of the front three in the 1st half as he took the game to City and tried making things happen. Werner faded after the first 15 as his confidence continues to be an issue. The German might see a period on the bench in the coming few weeks with Giroud and Abraham both scoring goals, and that might be what Timo needs. The spotlight taken away from him and for him to rebuild his form like Pulisic and now Havertz are doing. Ziyech did well in the opening minutes but it showed that he wasn’t 100 percent fit as he came for CHO around the 60th minute mark. CHO did extremely well and could see more and more game time as he once again got a goal and was causing City several problems.
It’s been a tough period for Lampard having lost 4 of the last 6 games. The 16 game unbeaten run seems a long time ago now but that is the nature of the modern game. Question’s will undoubtedly be raised about Lampard’s future similar to Arteta, and Ole this season. Lampard can turn this around though his post match press conference seemed like a rallying cry and as a fan you could see how much he was hurt but the recent results. Frank bleeds blue and we know what this club means to him. He has work to do similar to all the other managers and he will learn along the way. What Chelsea need to do is give him the time and patience.
With the loss Chelsea drop down to 8th, 6 points off of 3rd with Leicester being the only team having played the same number of games as us in the top 4. Our next game is in the FA Cup against Morecambe while our next league game is against Fulham around 12 days from now. A lot of work to do for Lamps for that game and the squad as a whole need to return to form. COME ON CHELSEA!!!