Frank Lampard’s return to the Bridge as manager began with fireworks, but by the end it was starting to fizzle out… probably because it’s been an exhausting week and it’s still very early days in a season which promises to be lively.
Leicester City – tricky opponents at the best of times with Jamie Vardy’s pace and renewed hunger – earned their point in a 1-1 draw, and could even have snatched victory at the end.
But on balance, particularly with the Blues’ blistering opening, shared honours was about right.
“The first 25 minutes was how we want to play, but the rest of the game wasn’t quite how we want to play,” said the new manager in the post-match press conference. “Credit to Leicester for that; they put us under pressure and we weren’t good enough in possession after the first period. We gifted them possession back and gave them the feeling they were still in the game because we didn’t score that second goal.”
Mason Mount – a player Lampard improved and improved at Derby last season, and who is repaying the gaffer’s faith in him – had a storming start,
His third-minute goal showed bravery and persistence in dispossessing Wilfred Ndidi and wrong-footing Kasper Schmeichel to score.
Overall, Chelsea’s passing and movement was dazzling, with really added pace on display in every position on the pitch… but whether through cumulative tiredness following the unwelcome midweek jaunt to Istanbul and its extra-time nightmare, or simple early-season rustiness set against Leicester’s relative freshness, it didn’t last.
“In the second half, we left far too many spaces for them,” said Lamps in his analysis. “They’re a very good team on the counter-attack; they have good attacking players who can really hurt you, and that was the disappointing thing for me. I don’t expect 100mph energy for 90 minutes, but I do expect that we keep possession of the ball better when we rest.”
Leicester levelled in the 66th minute, almost inevitably through Ndidi – heading home a corner by man-of-the-match James Maddison – a real threat to any opponent.
The draw left Lampard with his first point, and the reception he was given showed him he will be given at least a few months to prove himself. “It felt great; it was obviously a big, special moment for me to come back to the club and manage at Stamford Bridge,” he said. “It’s the stuff of dreams and I certainly appreciate it, but I’m here to do a job and we know we can do better than we did today.”
The development squad face Liverpool at the Bridge tonight (Monday), but the first team have until Saturday to prepare for the trip to Norwich next weekend… welcome time to reassess tactics and rebuild fitness.