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Two Positives (And Three Negatives) From Chelsea’s Chastening Defeat To United

Frank Lampard

Manager Frank Lampard was pretty honest after Chelsea’s 4-0 defeat to Manchester United yesterday. The Blues boss said that there may be some harsher lessons to come for his players over the coming weeks:

“Let’s be clear, with the injuries we have and the fact we couldn’t bring in players, this is going to be a work in progress to a degree and we will have to learn harsh lessons and correct them quickly.”

Getting used to a new style of play can have its difficulties, and going away to Old Trafford in your first game in charge was a baptism of fire, but what did we learn from the game?

Let’s start with two positives:

1) Chelsea had 17 shots on United’s goal in the 90 minutes, according to Wyscout. These were not all potshots either. Tammy Abraham hit the post, Emerson hit the bar, while David De Gea had to make seven saves during the match.

In terms of attacking intent, the Blues could not be faulted, apart from the fact that they didn’t finish their chances. As Lampard says, when the likes of Willian, Hudson-Odoi and even Christian Pulisic come into the starting line up, that may begin to change.

2) Chelsea averaged 7.54 passes per defensive action against United. This means they allowed fewer than eight passes by United before pressing the ball. This is a low number and shows Lampard is already implementing a high pressing game despite his short time in the job.

There were, though a few negatives that we have to mention:

1) The players lost the ball 111 times during the 90 minutes. If you compare that to the 1-1 draw in the same fixture at Old Trafford back in April, they kept possession far better, losing it only 75 times.

There were clear errors from the likes of Pedro and Kurt Zouma during the game, and while Lampard can’t prevent mistakes from happening, he can ensure that fewer risks are taken on the ball.

2) Chelsea won just 27% of their aerial duels during the match. There are a couple of factors that may explain such a low number. The absence of Olivier Giroud and the dominance of Harry Maguire in the air are no doubt important, but winning the aerial battle is something Lampard will need to look to improve.

3) The Blues were caught out on the counter-attack on a number of occasions, and there are some major issues to deal with in terms of defensive transitions. Lampard’s side gave away 2.57 expected goals during the match.

That xG is the highest since March when Chelsea lost 2-0 to Everton. The only other figure worse than that came in the 3-1 defeat to Tottenham back in November. Lampard has to stop the team conceding clear cut chances or things could unravel quickly.

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