Chelsea were beaten 1-0 at home by Valencia last night in Frank Lampard’s first European match in charge of Chelsea.
Whilst there were a number of elements that lead to defeat, and many factors at fault, there was four key mistakes that collectively lead to the loss.
Ross Barkley penalty fiasco
Another match, more penalty drama. This time Kepa was not involved.
Chelsea could have drawn the match and under the circumstances would have gladly took the point, if Ross Barkley had converted his late penalty. But he missed.
In the lead up to him taking the penalty, he was surrounded by Willian, Jorginho and Tammy Abraham. It looked like both Jorginho and Willian were attempting to take the penalty off Barkley, who had already placed the ball down.
Frank Lampard has claimed that Barkley is the designated penalty taker. This actually does check out, with Barkley taking two in pre-season, when Jorginho was also on the pitch.
So if this is the case as Lampard states, then Willian in particular should not have been trying to take it off of Barkley. In fact, unless a player was offering support, they should have been nowhere near Barkley. You have to look at that and say that this would naturally have put Barkley off, no matter how poor his penalty was. The whole fiasco was embarrassing.
Pedro and not Pulisic
Pedro was the worst Chelsea player on the pitch by far. He came on to replace an injured Mason Mount early on, but it should have been Christian Pulisic.
The American is closer to Mason Mount in what he brings, he is younger, fresher and eager. Pedro is past it, and should never be more than a backup player. Pulisic hasn’t lit it up yet, but he simply must be ahead of Pedro in the pecking order. This was a big mistake and one that became worse when Pedro wasn’t even taken off. It’s harsh to sub a sub, but it would have been fully justified.
He was fantastic last season, and really looked the part. This season, he has missed a handful of saves that really you would expect your goalkeeper to make. It’s easy to gloss over these because he has been so good since arriving, but they need highlighting.
Last night he really should have done better for their goal. Yes it came at him fast, but I felt he should have come off his line quicker and got into the face of the goal scorer. He lacks dominance in his box and this is concerning.
Not utilising wing backs
Good wing backs have pace, and are good at overlapping and crossing. Marcos Alonso played quite well and actually delivered some decent crosses, so there isn’t too much criticism there other than his general ability just not being good enough. But Azpililcueta was poor once again, he brings nothing at all to that role and is very basic. His crossing was poor and he just looked dizzy going forward as always.
There are certainly many things for Frank Lampard to look at going forward. Adaptive formations are great, but I like many, was hoping the 3 at the back would be just that, a temporary adaptive measure to the opposition and personnel available.