Fightback can’t paper over Blues’ dead-ball issues

Fightback can’t paper over Blues’ dead-ball issues

LONDON • Frank Lampard warned Chelsea to learn a “big lesson” from the mistakes they made before Tammy Abraham’s last-gasp strike rescued a 3-3 draw against West Bromwich Albion on Saturday.

The Englishman’s expensively assembled side were torn apart in the first half at the Hawthorns as Callum Robinson’s brace and Kyle Bartley’s goal left the Blues 3-0 down.

Chelsea captain Thiago Silva was guilty of an woeful blunder on his Premier League debut when he gifted the ball to Robinson for his second goal, while Marcos Alonso was at fault for the other two they let in. But Mason Mount and Callum Hudson-Odoi reduced the deficit before Abraham equalised deep into stoppage time.

It was a much-needed show of spirit from Chelsea, but Lampard admitted they must improve significantly. Since the start of last season, they have conceded 42 goals away from home – the most in the Premier League – keeping just one clean sheet across those 21 games.

“You can’t legislate for the mistakes there were today. You can have as many meetings as you want but with those mistakes, you give yourself a mountain to climb,” he said. “The question was how much character would we come out with second half. I always felt we could do it, but it’s still two points lost. We lacked a bit of urgency in the team. It’s a big lesson for us.”

Despite dropping error-prone goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga, Lampard learnt that Chelsea’s problems run deeper than who is between the posts.

His £222 million (S$389.8 million) close-season spending spree has not solved their problem defending set pieces.

Matheus Pereira’s corner was flicked on by Darnell Furlong for Barkley, who should have been marked by Alonso. Instead, he was played onside by Reece James and the Baggies defender slotted past Willy Caballero, who took over in goal as Edouard Mendy was not ready to make his debut.

Chelsea have conceded 11 goals from corners since Lampard took charge last summer – more than any team still in the top flight.

“I’m not going to criticise every part of our game,” he said. “There was nothing tactically you can analyse. There were just pure mistakes.”

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE