The air at the Emirates had a cold and chilly briskness to it like a typical London winter and around the stadium the Arsenal fans were buoyant but the mood was grim in the away end. Chelsea were trailing 1-0 to the Gunners at half time having just readjusted their formation from a 3-4-3 to a 4-3-3 and bringing on Jorginho in midfield for left-back Emerson on the thirty-five-minute mark. It was an early mistake by manager and Chelsea’s all-time leading goalscorer Frank Lampard which he went about correcting as soon as the team failed to perform up to the standards they set against Tottenham when playing a 3-4-3.
This was the third consecutive game Lampard went with the 3-4-3, perhaps because of the high level of its effectiveness against Spurs. But it backfired, first against Southampton on Boxing Day and then in the first half against Arsenal.
Lampard was surely livid in the dressing room after the abysmal first thirty minutes, looked to change things and delivered a team talk to galvanise his fledgeling squad.
The result after half time was significantly evident as Chelsea dominated possession and created wave after wave of attack. Jorginho and Tammy Abraham left it late to complete a smash and grab at the Emirates, securing all 3 points. Tariq Lamptey’s assured debut against Aubameyang on the right flank further highlighted Chelsea’s vast treasure chest of academy talent.
The bulk of the players in the current squad, of whom the world is expected of by Chelsea fans around the globe, to deliver week in week out in the toughest league in the world, are all barely 23. The Premier League is a league where many experienced top managers fail to successfully reach their season targets and more often than not get sacked before they can complete their intended projects and yet the young Frank Lampard has Chelsea in the top 4.
Chelsea, as this decade ends, have a young manager and an even younger squad as compared to their Premier League adversaries. Let that sink in for a second.
Frank Lampard is 41 and the average age of the Chelsea squad is 26. Tammy Abraham – 22, Fikayo Tomori – 22, Christian Pulisic – 21, Mason Mount – 20, Reece James – 19, Tariq Lamptey – 19, Callum Hudson-Odoi – 18.
That’s five or six of your starting players all 22 or younger and like every young team with bags of potential, they need time. There’s been so much of slander against the likes of Hudson-Odoi in recent weeks which is so senseless. He’s only 18 and coming back from a serious injury, so give him time. Judge them after they’re 26 and you’ll see a host of trophies in the Stamford Bridge cabinet.
Be patient Blues fans. This is a young squad that oozes potential and title-winning capacity. This is a transitional phase for Chelsea and full of excitement for what the future holds.
There will be mistakes, there will be a blip of results. Get behind Frank Lampard who is learning every day and with every game, be patient with the lads wearing that crest and support them irrespective of the results at the moment, they will deliver in years to come.