If someone had claimed going into the Premier League season that a Chelsea team managed by Frank Lampard, without the option of signing any players, on the back of losing Eden Hazard, forced to utilise the youth that was available to them, would be playing in the FA Cup final, even the most experienced of pundits might’ve simply laughed it off. Lampard and his backroom team hence deserve a massive amount of credit for not only getting Chelsea this far in the Cup but also securing an all-important Champions League berth for next season.
The Blues came into the FA Cup final with European football already in the bag, while Arsenal, on the other hand, needed to win to ensure their participation in the Europa League next season. Furthermore, the West London club have already completed the summer signings of Ajax’s Moroccan wizard Hakim Ziyech and German strike-sensation Timo Werner. Chelsea then, are very clearly a team still in transition and considering that even reaching the final is quite the achievement from Lampard’s young guns.
Breaking Down What Went Wrong For Chelsea Against Arsenal:
Breaking Down What Went Wrong For Chelsea Against Arsenal
The knocks picked up by Cesar Azpilicueta and Christian Pulisic seemed to completely disrupt the manager’s game-plan, as the American looked to be the catalyst of everything positive that this Chelsea side was creating. They weren’t helped by the injuries to Willian and N’Golo Kante either, as Lampard was forced to drift away from his first-choice team even before the game began.
Appalling Defensive Structure
One thing that can be said with certainty about the Blues’ defenders is that they’re all a bit short on confidence at this time. Kurt Zouma had been a dependable figure at the back over the last many weeks, but he looked utterly flabbergasted every time Aubameyang stepped up to him. Andreas Christensen is the man that replaced Azpilicueta, and the Dane never looked settled in the game despite coming on as early as the first half. German international Antonio Rudiger was the worst of the bunch though, as he could’ve cost the Blues a flurry of extremely cheap goals.
Lack Of Dynamism And Movement In Attack
For a man who is often criticised for being a ‘side-pass merchant’, Jorginho’s first reaction upon receiving a ball from the centre-halves is to look forward for any runners. Unfortunately for the Blues, after Pulisic came off injured, there was a frustrating lack of attacking runners. The number of times the Italian picked up the ball in good areas and was then forced to go back due to a lack of options should be simply unacceptable. Neither Pedro nor Mason Mount was able to provide the required energy while expecting a dynamic performance from Olivier Giroud is pushing it.
The biggest positive that Chelsea fans should take away from this defeat is the fact that the best is yet to come. Lampard has been forced to deal with a variety of handicaps since the start of the season, and it’s safe to say that he’s done a decent enough job. In terms of addressing the issues they faced against Arsenal, it’s more a matter of time than specific solutions. As for of the defensive fragility and a lack of movement in attack, the Blues’ agenda for the summer transfer window should be planned around taking care of these two issues. Adding some firepower at the back and upfront is undoubtedly on the gaffer’s mind.
As for their defensive fragilities, there has been a general lack of confidence running through the back-line since the start of the season, and the best way to deal with it would undoubtedly be to bring in a leader of a central defender (like Virgil Van Dijk at Liverpool) who will control and command every ball that’s played into the Chelsea box.
Moreover, the injuries to key players were a result of an extremely jam-packed schedule since the restart of football and is something that the manager would’ve experienced himself first-hand. All things considered, it’s safe to say that Arsenal deserved to win that final. Still, taking all that’s been going on in the background into consideration, a similar analysis could yield very different results at the end of next season.
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