Frank Lampard’s Chelsea have put in two very different performances in just the space of a few days.
On Sunday we saw his young side capitulate at Old Trafford as defensive clangers were pretty much the root of all four goals – it was kickstarted when Kurt Zouma felled Marcus Rashford in the box to concede a penalty so they started as they meant to go on.
Wednesday night saw a slight tweak to the system with a couple of more experienced names in the side and it seemed to pay off despite losing in a penalty shootout.
Chelsea made the Champions League winners look like your bog-standard side all because of a few changes – N’Golo Kante being one of them, was probably the highlight of the night as he managed to play all 120 minutes, recording a rating of 8.22 which was only bettered by Sadio Mane after his brace.
Christian Pulisic also started the game and rewarded his boss with an assist as he threaded Olivier Giroud an inch-perfect through ball to open the scoring in the first half.
It was the inclusion of the French striker which stood out as everything that Lampard needs for his system to work in the Premier League.
Whether it’s a 4-2-3-1 or the 4-3-3, they both utilise one striker – Giroud has all the attributes to be able to cope with such demands and he proved it last night.
He put in a masterclass performance in front of Tammy Abraham who looked out of depth against United and his confidence will have taken an even bigger knock after missing the penalty that cost the Blues the match.
Giroud won four aerial duels, had 42 touches with a passing accuracy of 76.9% – as well as a goal.
In the game against United – who based on last season’s exploits are a much worse side than Liverpool – Abraham could only manage half the aerial duels, nearly half the touches at 24 and struggled with link-up play with the lowest passing accuracy in the starting XI that day with 64.3% – in short he was so ineffective.
The Frenchman has won multiple trophies with English clubs, mainly four FA Cups and a Europa League – that’s some pedigree to leave on your bench whilst trying to make your young prospect shine just because he scored for fun in a lower tier of football.
Abraham scored 26 goals last season on loan at Aston Villa as they won promotion but that doesn’t mean it will correlate to success in an instant in the Premier League.
Lampard may seem like he has job security with the reputation he holds at Stamford Bridge but that would be rather naive considering owner Roman Abramovich’s past – he’s the 14th appointment since he bought the club in 2003.
He has no time to risk ‘making it work’ when there’s a proper experienced Premier League quality striker right under his nose.