Frank Lampard Needs to Make Changes if Chelsea’s New Boys Are to Fix Flaws

Frank Lampard
Frank Lampard needs to do more to help Chelsea’s defending | Pool/Getty Images

Frank Lampard’s managerial ability has been the subject of an intense debate ever since he joined Chelsea in the summer of 2019, and he’s not exactly done the greatest job of fighting his case.

The Blues play some enthralling attacking football but have been historically atrocious at the back. Since the start of last season, no side has conceded more away goals in the Premier League than Chelsea’s 42 – a tally which wasn’t helped by the humiliating 3-3 draw with West Bromwich Albion.

Plenty of fans have moved to reduce Lampard’s responsibility for that. After all, when Kepa Arrizabalaga posts a comically poor save percentage and Marcos Alonso, Antonio Rüdiger and co can’t stop making individual errors, what can the boss actually do to stop that?

Kai Havertz, Frank LampardKai Havertz, Frank Lampard
Lampard has often blasted individual errors | Pool/Getty Images

Well, it’s not ‘nothing’ like Lampard seems to be determined to believe.

Since day one, Lampard has wanted Chelsea to play attacking football. He wants quick, intricate play in the final third in the hope that the Blues will put five or six past every team in the country. He’s worked under some of the best managers in the world who have coached their sides to do exactly that.

However, none of those iconic coaches have sacrificed defending quite like Lampard has.

A common problem for Chelsea is getting caught on the break. They throw so many players forward, fail to unlock a stubborn defence and then find themselves short-handed at the back, which leaves Arrizabalaga (or Willy Caballero) vulnerable to making mistakes.

Kepa ArrizabalagaKepa Arrizabalaga
Arrizabalaga has taken a lot of the blame | Pool/Getty Images

Sure, your goalkeeper should be expected to make regular saves, but when it becomes apparent that he can’t (and trust me, it’s been apparent for at least 12 months), surely you should do something about that?

If you had a smashed window in your house, would you ignore it and try and live your life as normal, or would you put a board over it to try and keep the cold out?

It’s concerning to see Lampard’s lack of response to his side’s defensive struggles. He continues to throw his full backs forward with reckless abandon, which leaves his centre backs stranded and vulnerable when the attackers lose the ball.

It’s not like Lampard is the only manager with this flaw. Recently, we’ve seen this bleed into Pep Guardiola’s game, and Manchester City’s 5-2 loss to Leicester on Sunday is all the evidence you need of that.

Guardiola doesn’t always get away with his hyper-focused marriage to his system, but he usually does because his squad contains the quality and knowledge to paper over the cracks, and that’s the impact Lampard will hope to see from his new signings.

If Édouard Mendy can save just one shot, things might not look so bad. Ben Chilwell has the pace to get back and defend, and he’s got enough positional awareness about him to suggest he’ll be an upgrade on Marcos Alonso.

Even in attack, Chelsea might not give the ball away so much once Hakim Ziyech and Christian Pulisic return, or when Kai Havertz and Callum Hudson-Odoi get up to speed. That might limit the amount of counter-attacks to which Chelsea will be subjected, and that would be good news for Lampard.

However, relying on your players to bail you out isn’t a healthy way to lead a managerial life. Chelsea saw Roberto Di Matteo rely too much on player power, and once the euphoria of the Champions League triumph faded away in late 2012, the Italian was left on an island and was quickly given the boot.

The signs suggest that Chelsea are ready to give Lampard the time he needs to steer Chelsea back to glory, and it’s not as if things are going overwhelmingly poorly at this point, but the fear is that the Blues won’t make the transition to Step Two of Lampard’s three-year plan.

Frank LampardFrank Lampard
Lampard has called for patience | Pool/Getty Images

This season, Chelsea are expected to show that they can hold their own against Liverpool and Manchester City ahead of mounting a genuine title challenge next year. But how can you compete with Liverpool if West Brom can put three past you in less than 30 minutes?

Lampard doesn’t deserve all of the blame, but he also doesn’t deserve none of it. Everyone has work to do. Everyone.

For more from ​Tom Gott, follow him on ​Twitter!


The Tottenham Lineup That Should Start Against Chelsea

Tottenham drew to Newcastle last time out | CLIVE ROSE/Getty Images

Tottenham suffered the disappointment of a controversial last-minute draw at the weekend after putting in a dominant display for much of the match.

Newcastle summer signing Callum Wilson rescued a point for Steve Bruce’s side from the spot after an extremely contentious handball decision went against Eric Dier. Jose Mourinho’s men will be hoping they can bounce back against London rivals Chelsea in mid-week, when they host them in the Carabao Cup fourth round.

With a hectic schedule, Spurs will be forced into rotating their squad, which is already suffering somewhat from injuries. That could open the door for summer singing Sergio Reguilon to make his much-anticipated debut and give the likes of Ryan Sessegnon and Tanguy Ndombele another chance to impress.

Sergio ReguilonSergio Reguilon
Reguilon was on the bench against Newcastle | Pool/Getty Images

Joe Hart (GK) – The former England number one is second choice behind club captain Hugo Lloris, but after starting in the Europa League, it appears he’ll get his chances in the cup competitions.

Serge Aurier (RB) – The summer singing of Matt Doherty cast some doubt over Aurier’s future in north London, but this could be the perfect opportunity to prove his worth to Mourinho if the Ivory Coast international wants to stay and fight for his place.

Toby Alderweireld (CB) – Alderweireld was on the bench against Newcastle on Sunday and is expected to come back into the starting lineup for this Carabao Cup clash.

Eric Dier (CB) – With Jan Vertonghen yet to be replaced by Spurs and Japhet Tanganga still out injured, Mourinho will likely be left with a choice between Dier and Sanchez at the heart of defence.

Sergio Reguilon (LB) – The new signing from Real Madrid was on the bench against Newcastle and could be set to make his debut in the upcoming London derby. Spurs fans will be excited to see their new left-back in action after joining for £28m.

Dele AlliDele Alli
Alli has been left out of Mourinho’s last two Premier League squads | Catherine Ivill/Getty Images

Tanguy Ndombele (DM) – Tottenham’s record signing has impressed when he’s played so far this season, but places in Mourinho’s good books are all written in pencil. The 23-year-old will be hoping to seize his chance once again and cement his spot in Spurs’ starting lineup.

Dele Alli (CM) – Mourinho has left Alli out of his last two Premier League matchday squads, but he did start against Shkendija in the last round of the Europa League. The England international has been linked with a move away, but with the fixtures coming thick and fast, he could make the starting XI on Tuesday.

Gedson Fernandes (CM) – The Portuguese youngster has yet to make an appearance in the current campaign, but with Moussa Sissoko potentially sidelined through illness, he may be in line to feature against Chelsea.

Lucas MouraLucas Moura
Kane is likely to be rested and Son Heung-Min has a hamstring problem meaning Moura may lead the line | Pool/Getty Images

Steven Bergwijn (RW) – Bergwijn appears to be favoured in the cup competitions of late, with both of his starts in the current campaign coming in the Europa League. After Son Heung-min picked up a hamstring problem at the weekend, that pattern is sure to continue.

Ryan Sessegnon (LW) – The 20-year-old is another Spurs player who has yet to feature this season. The highly-rated youngster could benefit from the hectic schedule and be given a chance to impress in the Carabao Cup.

Lucas Moura (ST) – Harry Kane is likely to be rested and with the absence of a ready-made replacement in the squad, it could fall to Moura to lead the line.


Steve Bruce Believes Matt Ritchie Could Miss Months of Action Following Shoulder Injury

Matt Ritchie, Matt Doherty
Ritchie was substituted in the second half for Newcastle after injuring his shoulder | Clive Rose/Getty Images

Newcastle manager Steve Bruce believes Matt Ritchie could spend months on the treatment table after picking up a shoulder injury in their 1-1 draw at Tottenham.

Ritchie went down injured in the 66th minute of the game at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, landing directly on his shoulder after attempting to challenge Matt Doherty for a header.

Bruce confirmed after the match that the injury would keep the Scotland international out for a significant period of time, comparing it to the shoulder problem that has sidelined centre-back Fabian Schär since July.

Harry Kane, Fabian ScharHarry Kane, Fabian Schar
Fabian Schär injured his shoulder, also against Spurs | Michael Regan/Getty Images

“He [Ritchie] has done the joint in his shoulder,” Bruce confirmed to the Newcastle Chronicle after the game, which saw the Magpies awarded a last-minute penalty in controversial circumstances.

“We don’t think it’s a dislocation, but it looks as though he’s done exactly the same as Fab Schar did, which will probably mean an operation. We will know more in the next couple of days.”

Schär himself had to be operated on after he too went down in the middle of a game holding his shoulder, coincidentally in a match against Tottenham, and the Switzerland international has still not yet been cleared to make his return to Premier League action. Midfielder Isaac Hayden has had to fill in at centre-back at times as Schär continues his recovery, while Florian Lejeune was loaned out to Spanish side Deportivo Alaves earlier in the transfer window.

Allan Saint-MaximinAllan Saint-Maximin
Newcastle could be without their talisman Saint-Maximin against Newport | Alex Pantling/Getty Images

Ritchie joins a growing list of absentees for Newcastle ahead of their Carabao Cup tie against League Two side Newport County, and Bruce admitted that the squad is looking a little thin for Wednesday’s game.

“We will see how Allan [Saint-Maximin] and Ryan Fraser are for Wednesday,” he said. “Allan has tweaked his ankle, Ryan has a bit of a groin injury.”


Diego Costa Gives Terrifying Assessment of New Partnership With Luis Suarez

Diego Costa, Luis Suarez
Diego Costa is looking forward to playing with Luis Suarez | Soccrates Images/Getty Images

Atlético Madrid striker Diego Costa has joked that he is excited about being part of the most aggressive strike partnership in history alongside Luis Suárez.

Suárez was brought on in Costa’s place for the final 20 minutes of Atlético’s win over Granada on Sunday, and before the full-time whistle was blown, he had bagged two goals and an assist in a 6-1 victory.

Fans are yet to see Suárez play alongside Costa, but the Spaniard joked that he believes Suárez will complement his game… for all the wrong reasons.

“It’s a really good partnership, one bites and the other fights,” he joked to Movistar (via Marca).

On a more serious note, he added: “We have a player like Luis who luckily has left Barcelona, ​​I don’t know how a team like that lets him out, in the end for us it’s very good, he gives us a lot with his goals and inside the dressing room for his warrior spirit, his desire to win and obtain titles.”

Luis SuarezLuis Suarez
Suarez was the star of the show on his debut | Soccrates Images/Getty Images

Suárez was asked about Costa’s comments about his exit during his own post-match interview, in which he gave a cryptic response about his exit from Barcelona.

“I needed to change, there are moments, situations – there comes a time when the team needed to change,” he said.

“Sometimes it is important to change for a player. I come to a club that has given me a spectacular welcome, it shows in the atmosphere, you get a good impression from the beginning and you can see that on the pitch.

“I’m very happy for the debut and more than happy to get the three points in the league debut. Every time you make your debut and help the team with goals, you will be happy and content, but this will be seen in the future, because the season is long.”

For more from ​Tom Gott, follow him on ​Twitter!


Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang Reveals How Mikel Arteta Won Over Arsenal Squad

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Mikel Arteta
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has been full of praise for Mikel Arteta | Marc Atkins/Getty Images

Arsenal striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has again heaped praise on manager Mikel Arteta, crediting the Spaniard from bringing Arsenal back from the brink of collapse.

The Gunners were a laughing stock towards the end of Unai Emery’s reign, labouring down in mid-table obscurity and facing the almost-certain fate that Aubameyang would jump ship at the end of the season.

Mikel ArtetaMikel Arteta
Arteta has worked wonders | Clive Rose/Getty Images

However, Arteta came in and quickly turned things around, leading Arsenal to FA Cup glory and convincing Aubameyang to ink fresh terms, and the striker told Sky Sports that his manager deserves all the credit for the Gunners’ turnaround.

“When he came, the first day, we were in a room where I remember there were some chairs on the floor, everywhere in the room,” Aubameyang recalled. “So he brings the players, the staff and all the people working here and he said ‘this is the club right now, so you’re going to work altogether and first of all, clean this room, and then we’re going to talk’.

“After this you think ‘OK, I think he’s right, and we’re going to follow this way’ and this is how he made it and we have a lot of respect for him because he was a player as well. When you have a coach who knows what they’re doing, you just have to follow.

“Two things persuaded me to stay. The first thing was Mikel Arteta, because since he came in he brings a lot of positivity and a new philosophy for us. I think that was important because it matched my game and I feel that I can improve with him. I think this was the key factor and as well, the love that I receive from the fans and the whole club.”

With optimism flowing through the Emirates dressing room, Aubameyang admitted that Arsenal will use Monday’s meeting with Liverpool to see whether they are ready to compete for the Premier League title, but their focus remains on returning to the Champions League.

“When you win trophies, you want to win more trophies and this is what it’s about,” he added. “We want to compete, first of all for the league, I think this is the biggest point.

Mikel Arteta, Pierre-Emerick AubameyangMikel Arteta, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang
Aubameyang has been sensational since Arteta’s arrival | Pool/Getty Images

“We want to be back in the Champions League, we have to stay humble for sure. We cannot pretend to choose to play for the first place but we want to be part of the teams to compete for the first place and as I say, to stay humble and work hard and in the end try our best to win more trophies.

“I think everyone has one goal – to go forward and bring back the club to where it belongs. It’s now a few years since we’ve played in the Champions League, for example, and for me and all the club, it hurts – not just a little bit but a lot.”

For more from ​Tom Gott, follow him on ​Twitter!