WOLVERHAMPTON, England – Frank Lampard has won enough Premier League titles as a Chelsea player – three in six seasons between 2004 and 2010 – to know what it takes to stand out on top of the tree when silverware is distributed. So maybe he knew what would happen when he talked about the unique challenges of this pandemic-stricken campaign ahead of Tuesday’s clash with Wolverhampton Wanderers.
Lampard, now in his second season as Chelsea manager, talked about how the league is “getting tighter”, how most of the opponents have strengthened and that his team has already “lost points that we usually wouldn’t have. done”. With the 2-1 defeat to Wolves at Molineux, when the home team responded in Olivier Giroud’s opening 49th minute and emerged as the winner after goals from Daniel Podence and Neto, Chelsea lost even more points than usual. they would not have lost. And to support Lampard’s point that the league is getting tighter, Chelsea moved from top of the table to fifth in the space of 41 minutes of second half between Giroud’s goal and Neto’s recovery time for Nuno’s side. Espirito Santo.
Wolves are a good team, capable of beating any opponent this season, but Chelsea’s downfall in this match, and others in recent weeks, was not all the result of the improvements made on the other side. Chelsea are creating their own problems and fail to solve the problems that have been affecting them all season, which is why they have not been able to capitalize on the chance to rise to the top, just for one night, in view of Liverpool’s clash with Tottenham Hotspur on Wednesday.
– Stream ESPN FC Daily on ESPN + (US only)
– ESPN + Viewer’s Guide: Bundesliga, Serie A, MLS, FA Cup and more
Lampard’s team has practically stopped creating chances. 62 minutes went by without a shot on goal during Saturday’s defeat to Everton, and Wolves goalkeeper Rui Patricio had nothing to do for the 49 minutes of this game before Giroud scored.
There are mitigating factors, of course, in Chelsea’s diminishing threat of goals. Christian Pulisic, who played in this game but did little, struggled for fitness with a hamstring injury, while Timo Werner and Kai Havertz continue to seek the form that prompted the club to spend a total of 109, £ 6 million on their offensive talents over the summer.
Werner scored 34 goals in 45 games for RB Leipzig last season but has so far only scored eight of 20 in all competitions for Chelsea. His Bundesliga goal rate last season was an average of 0.90 goals every 90 minutes; in the Premier League it is only 0.32 every 90 minutes.
It is a similar story of trouble for Havertz, the attacking midfielder signed by Bayer Leverkusen with great fanfare. The German international scored 18 goals in 45 games last season, but this time it is only four of 16, and his average goal per game in England (0.12 per 90 minutes) is far below his Bundesliga stats. (0.44 every 90).
In truth, neither player seems comfortable with the team and their roles yet.
Werner, who performed better in the middle with Leipzig, either alone or as part of a duo attack force, was used on the left by Lampard, and was deployed there again at Molineux. The 24-year-old can play in that position and has done so in the past, but has little impact in that role with a Chelsea shirt. Perhaps the increased demand for defensive work is mitigating his advantage, but his lack of appetite for that element of the game is obvious, and prompted a second half to dress up with teammate Thiago Silva when Werner was shy in his attempts at press. the defense of wolves.
Havertz, replaced in the 71st minute, is clearly a talented player, but the 21-year-old seems to want to play at his pace and the Premier League is too ruthless to give him the time and space to hurt opponents. He has the skill and silk of a Mesut Ozil or Dimitar Berbatov, but too often Havertz also displays their questionable work ethic.
US captain Pulisic endured an equally difficult acclimatization period following his arrival from Borussia Dortmund last season and it took several months to show signs of his best form, so perhaps Werner and Havertz need to be seen through the same. Pulisic lens. Lampard, for example, believes that the couple needs patience.
“We have some new players who have joined and people might want to look at the price,” he said. “But at the same time, some of them are young players coming to play in this league for the first time, and that clearly needs some time.”
Lampard makes a valid point, but the coach also knows that time and patience are usually in short supply at Chelsea, certainly under the ownership of Roman Abramovich. Players are expected to hit the track and deliver right away, and the same can be said of the manager and his team.
Chelsea are too talented to fight for too long, but their second half slipped from Premier League leaders to fifth, and out of Champions League places, was a sign of how quickly things can go wrong in this league. . And the only way Chelsea can get back on track and bolster their hopes of a top four finish is to get the best out of their expensive new signings.
Sooner or later, Werner and Havertz will have to prove their worth.