The mood hasn’t been so positive at Stamford Bridge for a long time. There was a raucous and excited atmosphere at Stamford Bridge at the end of Sunday’s match, the likes of which hasn’t been seen in a long time… even though Chelsea lost to league leaders Liverpool.
Club legend Frank Lampard has the full backing of fans, who credit him with creating a style and an identity, while playing exciting soccer. And he is doing so using a spine of young academy products, all of whom have shown their worth at the highest level.
For a club who have been hampered by a transfer ban and who lost their best player in the summer, there is plenty to be happy about. On Sunday, Chelsea had 11 shots to Liverpool’s three, and were the better team in the second half, who deserved at least a point out of the match.
The atmosphere at the Bridge post-match showed that fans are happy, and the defeats feel less deflating, because there is a feeling that something is being built and good times are ahead.
The problem is, the least experienced manager in the Premier League has a long way to go to keep Chelsea among the league’s elite.
The biggest issue is defending. In six games Chelsea have now conceded 13 goals—that’s more than two per game, and only Norwich and Watford have shipped more.
The team can generally hold their own in open play, but there seems to be a particular issue with set pieces. Both of Liverpool’s goals came from dead balls, and they simply have to be better organized.
Another key issue is this team’s inability to take their chances. In last week’s home loss to a disheveled Valencia side, they had 22 shots on goal without converting a single one.
Abraham, Batshuayi and Mount all had great chances they didn’t take against Liverpool, which cost them points.
Chelsea sit in 11th place right now—compare that to Maurizio Sarri’s team last season, who won their first five matches, before going on to finish in the top four, as well as reaching the League Cup final and winning the Europa League.
Fans weren’t happy last season, but Sarri set a very high bar for achievement.
Lampard’s side are getting better with every game, and there are many positives, but there is a lot of work to be done before this side can establish themselves back in the Big Six.
The good news is that the next Big Six opponent is the weekend before Thanksgiving when they face Man City. That gives another six games against ‘lesser’ sides to hone the formula.