Chelsea should be encouraged despite Man Utd thrashing
Frank Lampard’s Chelsea require patience, and there was plenty of evidence against Manchester United that he should be granted it, says Adam Drury.
Chelsea opened the new season with their worst defeat in more than 40 years, yet their fans should be more encouraged than they were before kick-off.
That’s not something you could have ever believed of previous Blues teams. Sides managed by Jose Mourinho, Carlo Ancelotti and Antonio Conte set much higher standards.
But Frank Lampard’s Chelsea require patience if they are to progress, and there was plenty of evidence against Manchester United – albeit from a heavy defeat – that he should be granted it.
Lampard’s team selection came as a reminder of what he has to work with. Tammy Abraham and Mason Mount were both Championship players last season, while none of Kurt Zouma, Andreas Christensen and Emerson were in Maurizio Sarri’s first-choice back four.
I simultaneously think ‘Chelsea might be quite good this season’ and ‘that team today is v v v ‘Preston (h) in the 4th round of the League Cup’.— Nick Miller (@NickMiller79) August 11, 2019
In places it showed.
The visitors went behind after a rash challenge from Zouma brought down Marcus Rashford inside the box. But even Cesar Azpilicueta lost concentration after United’s second goal, allowing Rashford to run inside him for the third a minute later. If a younger defender had done it, it would have been derided as inexperience.
But youth was also the reason that Chelsea could consider themselves unfortunate to be behind at the break, and to end up losing the game 4-0.
Mount was busy in the large gaps that United left between their midfield and defence, linking well with Ross Barkley and Tammy Abraham. The latter was unlucky not to score after his fine early effort bounced back off the inside of the post.
Chelsea created several good chances, and would have led the half-time xG were it not for United’s penalty, while by the end of the match they led the shot count 18-11.
On another day, Lampard’s side would likely have been ahead at half-time and the gaps that Manchester United counter-attacked into in the second half would not have existed.
The narratives that form after results on the opening weekend make a stronger impression than on any other.
From here, United will be considered a team on the way back, with new signings Harry Maguire and Aaron Wan-Bissaka impressing at the back, and Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial flourishing in front of goal.
Chelsea, meanwhile, will be written off as not being at the required level. Too inexperienced and lacking in class to make an impression at the top.
It’s why Lampard laughed when asked post-match whether things might have turned out differently.
The defeat will sting, as will criticism from his old boss Jose Mourinho, but the lack of expectation that will come on the back of this result could actually do them good.
Those who briefly checked the score afterwards will assume one thing.
Based on the way this game really played out, though, it would be no surprise if there was little between United and Chelsea by the end of the season.
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