Chelsea’s defensive issues may not receive the quick N’Golo Kante fix Frank Lampard hoped for

Since the return of regular action post-lockdown, Frank Lampard’s Chelsea have kept just two clean sheets in the Premier League.

Against bottom-of-the-pile Norwich City and relegation-threatened Watford, Chelsea secured victories without conceding. In the other six league games since the resumption, Chelsea allowed at least one goal in each match. The frequency with which this has happened throughout the season is becoming a worrying trend.

Evidently something has gone awry; the Blues let in two goals against Crystal Palace, who for the most part have been toothless since the restart. More concerning is that Chelsea have conceded three or more goals on three occasions in the month of July; a 3-2 defeat to West Ham United, an embarrassing 3-0 loss to Sheffield United, and in yesterday’s 5-3 end-to-end encounter at Anfield.

Even more troubling, Lampard’s side have conceded at least 15 goals more than every other team in the current top six, and more in away games than Liverpool, Manchester City and Manchester United have altogether.

There have been a plethora of issues at the back for Chelsea this season. Kepa Arrizabalaga’s patchy form has seen him come in for criticism on an almost weekly basis, while the inconsistency of César Azpilicueta at the beginning of the season – once their most reliable defender – raised alarm bells.

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More recently, Antonio Rüdiger’s quality has been called into question, as has Andreas Christensen’s ability to impose himself on more domineering opposition forwards. But does the issue stem from a midfield that is not geared towards protecting Lampard’s defence?

Against Liverpool, Lampard used a 3-4-2-1 which saw them outfought in the middle by the Reds’ midfield and wing-backs. It appeared a conscious effort to remedy the issues borne out of Lampard’s tried-and-trusted 4-3-3, but it did…


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