- Chelsea fail title test but Lampard's side have closed the gap to Man City09:45 | 25/11/2019
The Blues were beaten 2-1 at the Etihad on Saturday night but they once again showed that they are learning fast under their new manager.
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“It’s a great test to see where we’re at,” he admitted. “It won’t be the end story. Anyone can go to Manchester City and lose; they are such a strong outfit, so I won’t be making huge judgements, win or lose.”
Technically, Chelsea failed their test, losing 2-1 at the Etihad. But Lampard will take huge encouragement out of his team’s performance.
They’re clearly not yet capable of beating the best teams in the Premier League, having already been defeated at home by Liverpool this season, but they again showed that they can compete with England‘s elite.
The Blues have now lost five consecutive games against big-six opposition since Lampard took charge during the summer but during the opening quarter of the game in Manchester, it was Chelsea who looked like the side most capable of reeling in league leaders Liverpool.
Chelsea had been slated for their performances on their last two trips to the Etihad. Antonio Conte’s side suffered arguably the most one-sided 1-0 loss in Premier League history two seasons ago, while Maurizo Sarri’s team were humiliated 6-0, the club’s worst defeat in 28 years.
At that point, the gap between City and Chelsea looked as wide as it has ever been during the Roman Abramovich era.
However, Chelsea showed on Saturday that they are rapidly making up ground.
City were fortunate to level the game before the half-hour mark, with Kevin De Bruyne’s low drive taking a decisive deflection off Kurt Zouma, though there was nothing lucky about Riyad Mahrez’s solo strike eight minutes later.
Chelsea were unable to get themselves back into the game as Pep Guardiola’s side took control in the second half, but there were plenty of positives for the Blues, who restricted City to just 46.74 percent possession.
Tammy Abraham failed to get on the scoresheet but he looked right at home on such a grand stage, while youngsters Christian Pulisic, Fikayo Tomori and Reece James all impressed.
However, games at this level are decided by small details and Chelsea were ultimately punished for their sloppiness.
Jorginho gave the ball away in the lead-up to De Bruyne’s equaliser, while Kepa Arrizabalaga was lucky to see Sergio Aguero strike the bar after giving the ball straight to the Argentine striker.
Emerson Palmieri, meanwhile, was clearly targeted by City and endured a torrid evening, meaning Lampard will have to ask himself if he erred in selecting the full-back.
Still, both he and his players will learn from this failed examination of their title credentials. This is a team that is clearly only going to improve and a top-four finish looks well within their reach.
“If you look at City,” Lampard mused afterwards, “they are an example to follow and we’re only at the start of that process.”
Chelsea, though, are progressing at a rate that nobody could have envisaged. When their next big test comes around, don’t be surprised if they pass it.
Source – Goal.com
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