It’s safe to say that a 4-0 defeat wasn’t what Frank Lampard would’ve been hoping for in his first competitive game as Chelsea manager. With a trip to Istanbul coming up in midweek, to take on Liverpool in the UEFA Super Cup, his second game in charge might turn out to be another unflattering result. However, despite the scoreline, there were some definite positives to take away from the opening game of the 2019-20 season.
First half dominance
From the off, Chelsea were in control of the game at Old Trafford on Sunday. They created a number of chances within the opening 15 minutes, with Tammy Abraham rattling the post and having David De Gea beaten all ends up. Before Kurt Zouma’s apparent lapse in judgement, gifting a penalty to United, Chelsea looked to be the far better side.
Looking at the lineups for both teams, it was great to see young players being given a chance for two of the biggest clubs in English football. The fact that a large portion of those young players were homegrown is an even better sign for the Premier League’s future. Some of those players shone for Chelsea in the first half; with Tammy Abraham, Mason Mount and Ross Barkley forming a formidable trio in the Chelsea attack, with veteran winger Pedro joining in to cause the United defence a number of problems. It looked to be only a matter of time before Chelsea managed to find the back of the net and put themselves 1-0 up.
Even after going a goal down, the Blues still looked like the better side. Creating a number of chances, and coming close to finding an equaliser on a handful of occasions. With Abraham missing the best of the bunch, a ball driven across the box, which he was too slow to react to.
While things began to unravel in the second half, particularly after the 60 minute mark, Chelsea fans should be looking to take the positives from their first half performance.
This is a new era of football for Chelsea, it’s a situation that the club hasn’t been in for quite a long time. They’re rebuilding the squad. They don’t expect to challenge for the league title this season, in fact even making the top four would be seen as an impressive achievement. With Lampard in charge, the hope is that club owner Roman Abramovich will finally show some patience with a manager, and give the legend some time to grow the young players coming through the ranks, and use them to push the club forwards.
There’s a lot to be excited about for Chelsea fans, even coming off the back of a 4-0 loss. Tammy Abraham looked sharp, the leap from Championship to Premier League is one that a lot of strikers tend to struggle with, however he got into a number of good positions and was incredibly unlucky to come away from the game without a goal. While Mount struggled somewhat throughout the game, he showed flashes of the talent that made him a mainstay in the Derby County lineup last season.
It’ll be interesting to see how new signing Christian Pulisic fits into the squad, and what he can bring to the table, however if he can replicate the form he produced for Borussia Dortmund during the 2017-18 season, Chelsea will have one hell of a player on their hands.
Too soon to judge?
Trying to judge a team after the first game of the season is usually a slightly pointless task, however the Blues really took the game to United in the first half, and against lower level opposition, would likely have been one or two goals up by half time.
There were some costly errors at the back, which Lampard is going to have to work hard to eradicate. While you may be able to get away with one or two of those against bottom half teams, the top squads are always going to punish you, and that’s exactly what we saw yesterday.
Overall, if they can find a way to maintain the pressure and effort displayed in the first 45 minutes, and tighten up defensively, I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see Chelsea fighting for a spot in the top four come the end of the season – though I would be surprised if they manage to sneak into the Champions League spots.
You can read our pre season preview of Chelsea here: https://lazyfansports.com/chelsea-preview-no-hazard-no-problem