It became a bit of a stick to beat those who didn’t believe in the footballing ideology of Maurizio Sarri last year.
Those that came down on the side of “ya da’s” would often be described as passion merchants, because they were seen as overlooking the technical aspects of being an elite Premier League player in 2020.
The old era of ‘hard men’ like Graeme Souness have been replaced by the likes of Jorginho and Matteo Kovacic (whom Souness hates).
Football has changed an awful lot, but yesterday’s performance against Manchester United in the F.A. Cup Semi Final shows that passion can still be a deciding factor.
Tactics matter, get it wrong and no amount of the right attitude will help you. Lampard’s 3-4-3 (or 3-5-2) put United off kilter.
The double pivot of the aforementioned Jorginho and Kovacic helped Chelsea turn over possession and spring our attack into life.
Then the overlapping Reece James and Marcos Alonso gave Chelsea an extra dimension in attack with led to the Harry Maguire own goal.
Yet while all the on the ball work was fantastic, it was Chelsea’s commitment off the ball that really laid the foundation for the 3-1 victory.
Chelsea harried and pressed United in a manner not seen for some time this season. It is the founding principle of Lampard’s ideology, replicated originally from Pep Guardiola’s Barcelona, and now adapted to the Premier League much like Pep’s Manchester City and Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool.
At the start of this season, Chelsea’s energy was unmatched, but perhaps unsurprisingly, has been inconsistent.
Klopp’s Liverpool had similar problems in their first couple of seasons but have since mastered the art of Gegenpress.
The signs are positive for Chelsea in this respect, as their relatively young squad are happy to buy in to this idea.
Chelsea swarmed United’s midfield, not allowing Bruno Fernandes the time and space that allows him to be so lethal.
But even when United tried to find some respite across the back line, Chelsea’s forward trio of Mason Mount, Oliver Giroud and Willian, further suffocated the opposition, leading to that comical video of Maguire.
And even when Lampard made substitutions, those coming on also piled the pressure on. Tammy Abraham and Callum Hudson-Odoi perhaps should’ve linked up for the fourth goal after some fantastic running by Abraham.
In the opening day 4-0 defeat at Old Trafford, Chelsea we’re actually out run by United (107.89 kilometres to our 106.63 kilometres) but when the stats get released for yesterday’s victory I’ll be very shocked if Chelsea aren’t ahead in this metric by some distance.
United may have had slightly more possession than Chelsea, but the Blues won more duels (including aerial duels), more tackles and more interceptions.
The performance sets a benchmark of what’s going to be expected, not just in these final 3 games but into the future.
If we want to be successful and challenging for major honours again, than this is the way you go about it.
Yes having quality obviously matters. The signings of Hakim Ziyech, Timo Werner and the impending arrival of Kai Havertz, really whet the appetite, it’ll be their commitment to the cause that will determine the level of their success at Stamford Bridge.