WOLVERHAMPTON, England – Frank Lampard has won enough Premier League titles as a Chelsea player – three in six seasons between 2004 and 2010 – to know what it takes to get to the top of the tree when the silver is distributed. So he may know what’s next when he talks about the unique challenges of this pandemic-affected campaign ahead of Tuesday’s clash with Wolverhampton Wanderers.
Lampard, now in his second season as manager of Chelsea, spoke about how the league is “tightening up”, how most opponents have strengthened and how his team has already lost points on which we would not normally have done ”. Losing 2-1 to the Wolves at Molineux, when the home team responded to Olivier Giroud’s opening in the 49th minute, becoming winners after goals from Daniel Podence and Neto, Chelsea dropped even more points than they would have. be usually low. And to support Lampard’s view that the league is getting tighter, Chelsea moved from the top of the table to fifth in the 41st minute of the second half between Giroud’s goal and Neto’s winner at the break for Nuno’s side. Holy Spirit.
The Wolves are a good team, one that is able to beat any opponent this season, but the fall of Chelsea in this game and others in recent weeks has not been the result of improvements made by the other side. Chelsea create their own problems and fail to solve the problems that affected them throughout the season and therefore failed to capitalize on the chance to go up, just for one night, before Liverpool face Tottenham Hotspur on Wednesday.
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Lampard’s team has practically stopped creating chances. It was 62 minutes without a shot on target during Saturday’s defeat at Everton, and Wolves goalkeeper Rui Patricio had nothing to do for the 49 minutes of this game before Giroud scored.
There are, of course, mitigating factors in the declining threat of Chelsea’s goals. Christian Pulisic, who played in this game but did little, struggled for fitness with a hamstring injury, while Timo Werner and Kai Havertz continue to look for the form that led the club to spend a total of 109.6 millions of pounds on their attacking talents. summer.
Werner has scored 34 goals in 45 games for RB Leipzig last season, but so far he has only managed eight of 20 in all competitions so far for Chelsea. His Bundesliga attack rate last season averaged 0.90 goals every 90 minutes; in the Premier League it is only 0.32 every 90 minutes.
It’s a story similar to woe for Havertz, the attacking midfielder signed with great fanfare from Bayer Leverkusen. The German international scored 18 goals in 45 matches last season, but this time there are only four in 16, and his average goals per game in England (0.12 to 90 minutes) are far below his Bundesliga statistics ( 0.44 to 90).
In reality, no player is yet comfortable in the team and in its roles.
Werner, who played best in the middle with Leipzig, either alone or as part of a two-man attack force, was used to the left by Lampard and deployed there again at Molineux. The 24-year-old can play in this position and has done so in the past, but has little impact in that role in a Chelsea shirt. Perhaps the increased demand for defensive work softens his edge, but the lack of appetite for this element of the game is obvious and led to a second half of teammate Thiago Silva, when Werner was halfway in his attempts to press the defense of the Wolves.
Havertz, who was replaced in the 71st minute, is clearly a talented player, but the 21-year-old seems to want to play at his own pace, and the Premier League is too forgiving to allow time and space to hurt opponents. . He has the skill and silk of a Mesut Ozil or Dimitar Berbatov, but too often Havertz also shows his questionable work ethic.
U.S. captain Pulisic endured a difficult period of acclimatization as well following his arrival from Borussia Dortmund last season and it took several months to show signs of his best form, so maybe Werner and Havertz need to be watched with same goal as Pulisic. Lampard, one, thinks couples need to be patient.
“We have some new players coming in and people might want to look at the price,” he said. “But at the same time, some of them are young players coming to play in this league for the first time and it is clear that they need a little time.”
Lampard claims a valid point, but the manager also knows that time and patience are usually low at Chelsea, certainly under the ownership of Roman Abramovich. Players are expected to hit the field and deliver immediately, and the same can be said about the manager and his team.
Chelsea have too much talent to fight for too long, but their slip from the second half from Premier League leaders to five, and out of the Champions League places, was a sign of how fast things can go wrong in this league. And the only way Chelsea can get back on track and maintain their hopes of reaching the top four is to get the best results from their new expensive signings.
Sooner or later, Werner and Havertz will have to prove their worth.