- Two more goals, two more injuries: Chelsea’s defensive crisis goes from bad to worse20:14 | 23/09/2019
The Blues were so close to ending Liverpool’s winning run but they were let down by what’s becoming their greatest weakness.
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Emerson Palmieri and Andreas Christensen were both forced off in the first half as Liverpool struck twice from set-pieces to exploit Chelsea’s ongoing defensive issues.
Yet, while this is undeniably a great Liverpool side that may go on to win the Premier League title this season, they were still lucky to come away from Stamford Bridge with a win.
After one of the best goals of N’Golo Kante’s career brought Chelsea back into the game, the Blues pressed hard for an equaliser, but Virgil van Dijk and co held firm for Liverpool in a way the hosts’ rearguard was unable to do so in the first half.
Lampard will be disappointed his players were slow to close down Trent Alexander-Arnold’s venomous free kick which opened the scoring on 14 minutes after Mohamed Salah’s backheel bamboozled a sleeping Chelsea wall.
Cesar Azpilicueta bundled in what he thought was an equaliser only for it to be rightly ruled out for offside in the build-up. The referee Michael Oliver and VAR Andre Marriner were booed by the Stamford Bridge crowd but the real danger to the Blues was another free kick won on the edge of their area.
The zonal marking system employed by Lampard for defending corners and free kicks was exposed again as Roberto Firmino was left with a free header to make it 2-0 from Andy Robertson’s delivery.
Chelsea’s pre-season showed warning signs that set-pieces could be an issue and further problems have emerged in the three games since the international break.
Four of the six goals conceded against Wolves, Valencia and now Liverpool have been from set-pieces, with zonal marking at Molineux a week ago giving Nuno Espirito Santo’s side a glimmer of hope despite being 4-0 down. Then Valencia nicked a win at Stamford Bridge in the Champions League with a wonderful set-piece routine for Rodrigo’s goal.
Lampard will hope that the defenders themselves aren’t the issue given Fikayo Tomori’s start to life as a Chelsea centre-back has been particularly positive in the early weeks of the club legend’s managerial reign.
He will have to get back to the training pitch to resolve issues, while he has been right to complain about a lack of concentration from his side last time out.
After Liverpool made it six wins from six games, Chelsea are left trailing the leaders by eight points to suggest the gap between the Blues and the European champions is bigger than ever since Roman Abramovich took over in west London.
The bright spots for Lampard included Kante producing another all-star display against Liverpool to once more demonstrate he is the one truly world-class player in the group.
It was also a spirited second-half display from Lampard’s side in the push for an equaliser as both Mason Mount and substitute Michy Batshuayi had the chance to level, while Tammy Abraham could have added to his seven goals for the season.
Chelsea offered an indication they are on the right path if they can continue in this vein, yet Lampard will need to resolve the glaring weakness when it comes to defending set-pieces. Unfortunately, the injuries suffered will not help and Christensen’s knee problem will be of particular concern.
Source – Goal.com
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