Chelsea defense in disarray despite West Brom return | Football News


Frank Lampard under scrutiny as Chelsea defensive troubles continue

As The Liquidator screamed at the Hawthorns, Chelsea players should have felt right at home. Instead, it was their familiar away failures that were highlighted when they dropped three goals against West Brom on Saturday night. Frank Lampard’s problems at the back show no signs of abating and threaten to undermine Chelsea’s hopes for progress.

The fact that they managed to save a point with a spectacular comeback in the second half culminating with Tammy Abraham’s time-out equalizer will encourage a lot. The talk about team spirit and a group of players ready to fight for the cause is valid. The fact that all three goals were scored by academy graduates highlights the depth of the team and could resonate with some.

But it was still just a point against newly promoted West Brom. It was the home team that was on the bridge at the end deploring two points lost. It was because Chelsea were cut in the first half, their hopes of victory already almost extinguished. The Baggies had done their homework. The book hadn’t turned out to be a particularly delicate read.

FREE TO WATCH: Highlights of West Brom’s 3-3 draw with Chelsea

FREE TO WATCH: Highlights of West Brom’s 3-3 draw with Chelsea

Kepa Arrizabalaga may not have been on the pitch – abandoned, with Edouard Mendy certain to take up his post next weekend. But it was clear from that performance that the problems at Chelsea stem from what’s happening in front of the posts and not just because of who the poor hapless soul is supposed to stand between them.

Willy Caballero let in the three shots he faced. Never a good look. But his supporters have not made it easy for him. The first goal came from poor head clearance from Marcos Alonso, the second following a dismal touchdown from Thiago Silva, the veteran Brazil international who was named Chelsea captain on his Premier League debut.

This is the man who is supposed to solidify this defense. Instead, he gave Callum Robinson a clear path through him. Two at the bottom, just like that. A defense that fell back at the slightest hint of pressure. A back line frightened into a stupor at the mere whisper of the word rhythm.

Thiago Silva struggled to make his Premier League debut for Chelsea against West Brom

Thiago Silva struggled to make his Premier League debut for Chelsea against West Brom

Silva has the experience of not repeating the kind of mistake that West Brom so gratefully swallowed. But on this evidence, even at its best, the job requirement is not for a wise old head but someone in the back who can run. Even at 36, the Brazilian looks faster than the Chelsea defenders who were on either side of him at the Hawthorns.

Andreas Christensen may have more than a decade on his main partner at the back, but he doesn’t have a yardstick on him. As for Alonso, who put in a desperately poor performance, the weaknesses in his game have long been apparent to Chelsea fans. Here it has been exhibited time and time again by the deliberate direction of Matheus Pereira.

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At one point at the end of the first half, Pereira rushed between Alonso and Mateo Kovacic as the pair briefly looked at each other in disbelief. Darnell Furlong also had a run at left-back once he became a free-for-all player. The weak link had been identified. It’s no surprise that Lampard did not allow Alonso to reappear for the second half.

The fear is that staff are only part of the problem at Chelsea. The system makes them vulnerable. Alonso’s starting position was so high that he almost functioned like a winger in a back four. Pereira was happy to play by not following him, glad he could do a lot more damage in the final third than Alonso could ever hope to do on the other end.

Lampard was frustrated with the Hawthorns despite his side’s return

Lampard was frustrated with the Hawthorns despite his side’s return

James was leaving similar spaces on the other flank and it’s tempting to think that if West Brom had the confidence to keep attacking after the interval, especially when Lampard went bankrupt by introducing Olivier Giroud for Thiago Silva, then the home team could have scored. the fourth goal that would surely have ended all aspirations of return.

Having already lost their first two games of the Premier League season, Slaven Bilic’s side were not convinced they would see it through. Other sides will. And even if they don’t, they’re still going to want to keep things tight and exploit another familiar weakness. West Brom’s third goal came from a corner, a flaw in Lampard’s side that has not been fixed.

The statistics have been well published. Chelsea have now conceded 11 Premier League goals from corners since Lampard took over. That’s more than any team still in competition – and this despite the fact that their side have actually faced fewer corners than any team to play in the Premier League in both seasons of this period, except Manchester City.

Chelsea concede one goal in every 14 corners they face. It’s a weakness and a sign of a weak side – a side that have conceded more away goals than any other Premier League team since Lampard’s appointment. It’s an overwhelming record and it needs to change, but is any of the big name summer signings really going to be able to do it?

Lampard was right to talk about attack patterns taking a long time to develop. Timo Werner, still chasing his first goal after three Premier League appearances, can only get better. The firepower is there at Chelsea and the return of Christian Pulisic will only add to that. It can cover a myriad of sins, but success in the Premier League requires something closer to impeccability.

Lampard knows it but does he know how to solve it? Antonio Rudiger was arguably Chelsea’s best defender but finds himself out of the squad and looks set to leave the club. Christensen and Thiago Silva do not seem to complement each other. It’s a big request to expect newcomer Ben Chilwell to cover these defensive gaps from the left-back.

It’s a team with a lot of work to do but little time to do it. Next week, two more London derbies against Tottenham and Crystal Palace. Money has brought options and expectations. Only Lampard can find the solutions. He will understand he has to do it quickly or risk his own Chelsea rebuilding plan in the face of liquidation.

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