Turbo Timo Werner adds a whole new dimension, Mount and Havertz pose a No 10 dilemma, Barkley may be worth keeping and Kepa’s days are numbered… the lessons Frank Lampard will have learned from Chelsea’s opening win over Brighton
- Lampard’s side opened their Premier League season with a 3-1 win at Brighton
- Summer signings Timo Werner and Kai Havertz made their league debuts
- Chelsea need Ben Chilwell back from injury soon after Marcos Alonso struggled
- Keeper Kepa made another error in failing to keep out a shot from long range
- Werner offers something different up front, but who will play the No 10 role?
- Ross Barkley came on and firmed things up in midfield, offering a solution
It wasn’t exactly the most exhilarating performance to announce Chelsea’s impending Premier League title challenge having spent £200million in the summer market, but it was three points on the board nonetheless.
Frank Lampard’s side opened their campaign with a 3-1 victory at Brighton that was never really in doubt even when Leandro Trossard equalised early in the second-half.
A stunning 25-yard strike by Reece James – just 99 seconds after Brighton’s goal – and a third from Kurt Zouma added to Jorginho’s first-half penalty won by new striker Timo Werner.
Frank Lampard watches on as his Chelsea side opened their league season by beating Brighton
Jorginho celebrates after converting a first-half penalty to hand Chelsea the lead at the Amex
Reece James hit a 25-yard screamer to restore Chelsea’s lead after Trossard levelled
Kurt Zouma scored Chelsea’s third to seal their opening night victory on the south coast
But Chelsea’s low gear performance will have convinced Lampard that further work needs to be done to raise his team to the level of Liverpool and Manchester City.
We take a look at some of the lessons Lampard will have learned from Monday night’s win at the Amex Stadium.
Lampard needs Chilwell fit as quickly as possible
Chilwell, a £50million summer arrival from Leicester City, missed the trip to the south coast as he continues to struggle with an achilles injury.
The issue also saw Chilwell miss Leicester’s final five matches of last season and it may be another couple of weeks before he makes his Chelsea debut.
The need for Chilwell to come in and make the left-back position his own was highlighted by the way Marcos Alonso was given the runaround by Brighton’s ex-Chelsea man Tariq Lamptey.
Brighton’s former Chelsea man Tariq Lamptey gave Marcos Alonso the runaround on Monday
Alonso was beaten for pace and skill time after time by right wing-back Lamptey, 19, who decided to leave Stamford Bridge for Brighton back in January to pursue more game time.
While Lamptey, whose progress at Chelsea was essentially blocked by the impressive breakthrough of Reece James in that role, had a point to prove against his former club, Lampard will have been alarmed by the gaps he helped create.
It will have served to confirm that Chilwell will replace Alonso at left-back as soon as he gains full match fitness.
Deal for Kepa’s replacement needs to happen immediately
New season but same old problems for Kepa Arrizabalaga as he allowed Trossard’s shot from range to sneak under his outstretched arm and into the net for Brighton’s equaliser.
Chelsea have spent plenty of money boosting their attack this summer but it could all count for little if they don’t replace a keeper who really should be keeping such chances out.
Kepa should have saved the shot and it isn’t the first time the Spaniard has conceded in this way. Indeed, since he joined Chelsea in 2018, Kepa has let in 19 shots from outside the box in league games alone – more than any other top-flight keeper.
Kepa Arrizabalaga came under further pressure after allowing Trossard’s long-range shot in
Lampard publicly backed the Spaniard after the game but knows Chelsea need another keeper
Edouard Mendy is poised to sign from Rennes and will provide competition for Kepa
‘That’s a sorry story for a £70m goalkeeper,’ said Gary Neville in the Sky Sports studio after seeing that stat.
Lampard insisted he remains ‘very happy’ with Kepa in post-match comments but really he will want the imminent deal for Rennes keeper Edouard Mendy to be done as soon as possible.
The transfer is reportedly close to completion and Mendy will offer competition to Kepa and Willy Caballero. Lampard’s dilemma is which to pick as his No 1 but another mistake from Kepa made his job easier.
Turbo-charged Werner will add a new dimension to the attack
Timo Werner didn’t mark his Premier League debut with a goal but the German did have an influence, winning the first half penalty after Brighton gifted Chelsea the ball.
His lightning pace was very much on display and Lampard will have watched his performance and been quietly satisfied that £53m man Werner can run Chelsea’s forward line this season.
Timo Werner moments before Mat Ryan brought him down for Chelsea’s first-half penalty
The German’s electric pace has the potential to give Chelsea a fresh dimension in attack
Werner was flagged offside 43 times for RB Leipzig last season – more than any other player in Europe’s top five leagues – but Lampard is safe in the knowledge that once or twice a game he’ll time his run perfectly.
And once he does get beyond the last defender, his electric pace will prove devastating. It’s been a good while since Chelsea had such a quick player up front and lots of their attacking play will go through Werner.
For all the emphasis on wide men Hakim Ziyech, Christian Pulisic, Callum Hudson-Odoi, the defence-splitting through ball to Werner could prove Chelsea’s most potent weapon this season.
That No 10 decision can’t be put off any longer
Having toggled between a 4-2-3-1 and a 4-3-3 for much of last season, Lampard went for something a little bit different at the Amex Stadium.
Four at the back with N’Golo Kante and Jorginho in familiar deep midfielder roles, then Mason Mount and Kai Havertz given permission to roam out wide ahead of them.
Ruben Loftus-Cheek, usually at home in central midfield, was asked to pretty much partner Werner in attack.
It resulted in a disappointing night for Loftus-Cheek, who was replaced by Ross Barkley with half-an-hour to go having failed to make an impact.
Ruben Loftus-Cheek (left) struggled in a more advanced position and was subbed off
Kai Havertz, a £72m summer signing, made a low key debut in the Premier League on Monday
Lampard tried to fit Havertz and Mason Mount into the side but he’ll need to make a No 10 pick
The same could be said of Havertz, who had a quiet night and at one stage pinged a cross-field ball straight out of play. Of course, the German will need a little bit of time to adjust to English football.
While Lampard will be pleased his tinkering still resulted in victory, the off-nights by two of his key players will surely result in a return to one of the systems deployed last year with a No 10.
Both Mount and Havertz will want that role and this was clearly an effort to try and fit them both in, avoiding what is going to be a very difficult choice.
Unfortunately, the performance wasn’t fluent enough to put this off again – it’ll have to be Mount or Havertz. The £72m new boy or the academy graduate Lampard himself brought through last year.
Barkley could well be worth hanging on to
Chelsea led 2-1 when Loftus-Cheek’s disappointing night came to a close and Ross Barkley slotted into the midfield.
There have been suggestions that Barkley will be packed off to West Ham in order to secure the signing of Declan Rice but here was a reminder of what the England man can offer.
He has slipped down Chelsea’s long midfield pecking order, with Kante, Jorginho, Mateo Kovacic, Mount and Loftus-Cheek probably all ahead of him.
Ross Barkley came off the bench for the final half-hour to help Chelsea to victory
But the way Barkley came on to offer more of a threat pushing forward as well as helping shut the game down in the final 25 minutes after Chelsea’s third meant he was as effective as Loftus-Cheek and Mount on the night.
Barkley knows he’s going to be restricted to substitute appearances such as this and with Euro 2020 on the horizon, he probably doesn’t want to be merely a second-half ‘game clincher’ as he was on Monday.
Leaving Chelsea would therefore appear to be the best option but there’s no reason why Lampard should be hurrying Barkley to the exit door.
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