Frank Lampard did not enjoy his Boxing Day. At all.
Chelsea’s manager sat on the bench wearing a glum expression as he watched his side lose 2-0 at home to Southampton on Boxing Day, as once again they came unstuck at home against a team in the bottom half of the table.
The defeat marked the first time Chelsea have lost back-to-back home games in the Premier League since 2011 and plenty of Blues fans were far from happy (understatement alert).
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Speaking to the BBC after the game, Lampard didn’t beat about the bush when dissecting Chelsea’s display as they’ve now lost against West Ham, Bournemouth and Southampton in their last four PL home games.
“Teams are making it difficult here. We are not making enough chances, we were at the beginning of the season. We are being asked a different question at home. At the moment we are not answering them. We do not manage to pick up that final pass,” Lampard said. “Against Tottenham we had space to make runs and today we had none. It changes things. We did not do it right today. I think If at the start of the season we would have been happy where we are. We are good away but we have to make it difficult to come here.”
Chelsea are a young side and there will be growing pains this season. We all knew that and Lampard knows that better than most.
When they went on a six-game winning run in the fall, he was the first person to urge caution. And now that is proving correct as he admitted the players are maybe thinking about their poor home form too much.
“There is more pressure, everyone is talking about it,” Lampard said. “We are not playing like the Chelsea to break them down.”
But it’s not just the players who have to hold their hands up after the defeat against Saints, as Lampard’s decision to stick with the 3-4-3 formation which worked so well at Tottenham on Sunday was a bad one.
He changed it around at half time (Mason Mount replaced Kurt Zouma and Chelsea reverted to a 4-2-3-1 formation) but it was too late by that point. Southampton put in their best display of the season and were clinical, but Chelsea never got going in attack and Lampard will be concerned with their drop off in form which has seen them lose five of their last seven PL games.
Lampard chopped and changed his side as he brought in Callum Hudson-Odoi, who had a shocker, and continued to leave Christian Pulisic on the bench, and the Blues lacked creativity in the final third and like Man United this season, Chelsea struggle to break down teams who sit back and defend and do better against the big clubs who allow them space on the counter to attack.
With the January transfer window just around the corner and Chelsea now able to buy players after their transfer ban was lifted, he can bring in new recruits in defense, especially at full back. It may also not be too far off the mark to suggest that Chelsea’s ability to bring in new faces in the next few weeks could have unsettled their settled young side who believed they would be getting a full season to bed in together.
If Chelsea want to keep the top four hopes intact Lampard needs to galvanize the group and improve their defensive shape. Next up they face Arsenal on Sunday (Watch live, 9 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com) which will probably suit them better than playing teams in the bottom half of the table. Lampard will want a response and given the topsy-turvy nature of his team this season, they will probably hammer the Gunners.