A Blue Up North reviews Chelsea’s first home Premier League match of the season as they take on Leicester City at Stamford Bridge.
Chelsea played their first match of the season at Stamford Bridge this Sunday and that meant the no small matter of Frank Lampard’s first match as manager of The Blues at his spiritual home.
Chelsea might have been hosting Leicester City in what could have been seen as a major test for the team hammered at Old Trafford last weekend, but all the build up was about the return of the prodigal former player.
And as the new Chelsea manager walked out and took his place in the home dugout, the whole of Stamford Bridge were on their feet and cheering his name. A wonderful display at The Shed end epitomised the love the new manager has from the team’s supporters.
Frank had made just one change from the team that started against Liverpool in the Uefa Super Cup. Mason Mount started in midfield in place of Mateo Kovacic as the manager tried to build on the improved display from his team on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, Brendan Rodgers was able to pick a very strong line up. Turkish centre back Söyüncü has been drafted in to replace Harry Maguire, while Ayoze Perez and Tielemans lined up in midfield alongside the powerful Ndidi. James Maddison supported Jamie Vardy in attack.
But it was the home side who started very well. A flutter of early chances were either squandered or denied. However, The Blues continued to press on, and when Ndidi hesitated in possession just outside his own penalty area, Mason Mount was on him in a flash. His robust challenge instantly got him clear on goal and he slotted in his chance despite being in the process of losing his balance.
It was a perfect start for Frank Lampard and Chelsea Football Club in their current predicament. Despite being unable to register any new players and missing a host of first choice players from last season, it seemed that a combination of a former player in charge of some richly talented youngsters eager to represent the first team could be a workable mix.
Despite their early breakthrough, The Blues were unable to capitalise and a regular issue for them in recent seasons has been their inability to finish teams off when they are in a superiority.
Whether it was this trait or some fatigue setting in after such an arduous effort so early on in the season on Wednesday, but home side steadily started to lose their grip on the match.
Leicester continued to gather momentum and the increasingly inevitable equaliser came. Most of the Chelsea players were looking like they were starting to run on empty. The 120 minutes in a humid sapping conditions in Istanbul on Wednesday was starting to show its toll.
Frank countered by immediately bringing on fresher legs with Willian and Mateo Kovacic replacing Jorginho and Christian Pulisic. The Blues desperately needed to wrestle control back in midfield.
However it was the away side who looked the more likely to gain all 3 points, especially with Maddison pulling all the strings. His passing, either in open play or from a dead ball situation is breathtaking at times.
And a match that started with the prospect of The Blues gaining an impressive victory ended with them fighting hard to not lose. That in itself shows too many similarities to Chelsea’s first 2 competitive matches already this season.
Frank’s team have started each match in very positive and promising terms, but have allowed their opponents to wrestle the upper hand from them. This does look like a worrying trend on the face of it, and the media have not been shy in coming forward in highlighting it.
But is it that surprising to see a team still in it’s infancy not being able to control a full Premier League match? And I’m not just referring to the youthful Mason Mount.
If this team was not devoid of so many key players due to injury, then this trend would be a worry. However, Frank’s team are missing their best defender, their best midfielder and key creative players. His centre back partnership have rarely partnered each other before this season and never with Kepa in goal.
So with a little bit of patience, the true level of this current squad will take shape. I’m sure Frank himself is not too concerned and will be focusing more on the positives shown by his players so far this season.
So with Brendan Rodgers failing for a 13th time to beat his former club as a manager, and his side leaving Stamford Bridge probably believing they should have won all 3 points, most of the Chelsea supporters left still fairly upbeat with the appointment of Frank and the inclusion of some of the club’s youth products.
With back to back newly promoted clubs up next, The Blues will be aiming at getting a much deserved first victory of the season.
Written by Jon Ellis, home and away season ticket holder. Follow him on Twitter @ClitheroeBlue