Chelsea’s third pre-season game was the first opportunity for Lampard to continue experimenting with the team, and start to get more of an idea of what the XI will look like at Old Trafford.
The game overall was a poor one and lacking intensity from a Chelsea perspective, which could be put down to the humidity and heat over in Japan. Lampard set the team up in a 4231 shape in the first half, and chances were at a premium as Chelsea struggled to get many clear shots at goal.
Kenedy and Pedro played as the wingers, and were narrow as Lampard likes, however the supporting width from Azpilicueta and Alonso was poor and non-existent at times. That needs to improve to have success in this system. The full backs were an area of weakness under Sarri and will continue to be with Lampard.
Jorginho and Kovacic played as the holding midfielders and did a decent job, however the space in between them and the forward players was too much. It meant that the attacking players had to hold the ball up a lot, which isn’t the strengths of the individuals that were on the pitch. The ball would be fizzed into Batshuayi, Kenedy and Pedro, and would very rarely stay with them until support arrived.
4231 has the potential to be good, but it relies heavily on the right individuals and too many of them just weren’t suited to the system. Fitness may have played its part too, but it wasn’t a great showing in the first half.
The second half saw Barkley, Giroud, Emerson, Zappacosta and Christensen introduced from the start, with Chelsea remaining in a 4231 shape. The intensity improved slightly, and Mount impressed as he was forced out to the left. Barkley was the standout player in the second half, and looked like he had a point to prove. It was also good to see Pulisic for the first time, and he looked lively throughout.
The squad still has a lot of players that won’t or shouldn’t be in the squad for the upcoming season, which impacts the quality of our play a great deal. Lampard needs to cut those players out of the squad for our final four pre-season games once we return to Cobham.
All in all, it was a poor performance and a disappointing result. It is still pre-season and with five fixtures left, there’s time to fix and improve some of the issues we’re currently having. Let’s not overreact and start the Lampard Out rubbish. It was a poor game, but we’ve had plenty of poor pre-season games in the past and gone on to have successful seasons.
Stay positive and UTC