Frank Lampard’s gamble against Man City backfired and the Chelsea boss may face ultimate consequence after suffering a serious humiliation. The Matchlights indicates that Chelsea was of no class near Manchester City last night.
Frank Lampard had to try something different to halt Chelsea’s poor form. So against Manchester City, he rolled the dice.
Christian Pulisic, Hakim Ziyech, and Timo Werner were deployed as an attacking trio for the first time. A mix of creativity, dribbling ability, and raw speed. It was an enticing prospect.
“We need that, any top team that wants to be successful needs that.”
And for 15 minutes, it appeared to be the right call. Chelsea pressed City high up the pitch, they snapped into challenges and looked a genuine threat on the counter. Then everything fell apart.
The moment City realized Lampard’s side were there for the taking, they went for the jugular. Ilkay Gundogan struck an excellent first. Phil Foden then added a second soon after due to poor defending
Chelsea never recovered, and the front three played their part as to why.
The intensity they displayed in the early stages of evaporated. Manchester City’s defenders, alongside Rodri and Gundogan, were constantly able to collect the ball in space, turn and then find a teammate in the Chelsea half.
Ziyech, making his first appearance since December 5, struggled to get on the ball and influence the game. He was also part of a dysfunctional right hand, almost certainly caused by the absence of Reece James due to a hamstring injury.
Werner, meanwhile, was well marshaled. John Stones and Ruben Dias were able to hold a high line as Chelsea couldn’t build attacks due to the high press employed by Guardiola’s side.
The final man of the attacking trio, Pulisic, was the most lively but even though there were a couple of eye-catching runs with the ball, they amounted to very little.
In fact, one free-kick earned by the American star resulted in City’s third goal.
Ziyech’s delivery was cleared as far as N’Golo Kante, who looked to recycle the ball to the Morocco star. But his pass was intercepted and Raheem Sterling was put through one-on-one with Edouard Mendy.
The England star eventually struck the post but the rebound fell to Kevin De Bruyne who fired home.
That goal arrived eleven minutes before half time. And, in truth, City had chances to add to their lead before the break. Lampard opted to make no substitutions at halftime; the attacking trio given the opportunity to recuse Chelsea.
Yet there was little reaction in the second period. Pulisic again showed neat touches to escape defenders, but he couldn’t fashion a clear chance.
Werner, already bereft of confidence, kept running and kept wanting the ball. He was left on until the bitter end yet never looked likely to score. One dribble into the City box that he eventually ran out of play summed up his evening.
Ziyech was the only one of the three to be brought off, no real surprise given this was his first game in a month. He departed in the 63rd minute having completed only 68.8% of his passes, the lowest of any Chelsea player by some distance.
The 27-year-old was replaced by Callum Hudson-Odoi and the academy graduate, who had impressed against Arsenal and Aston Villa, immediately looked more of a threat.