LONDON • Frank Lampard rubbished his side’s chances of winning the Premier League this season after missing out on the chance to move back to top of the table with a 1-0 defeat by Everton in front of 2,000 fans at Goodison Park on Saturday.
A run of 17 games without defeat in all competitions after splashing £220 million (S$389 million) in the summer had seen Chelsea talked up as serious title contenders.
However, Lampard claimed his side still had to be considered young pretenders after they failed to muster a response to Gylfi Sigurdsson’s 22nd-minute penalty after Dominic Calvert-Lewin was brought down by Edouard Mendy, his second mistake in two games.
“Some people who are saying, ‘We’re going to win the league, we’ve got the best squad in the league’, it’s ridiculous stuff,” said the Blues boss. “When you talk about the best squads, you have to look at the teams that have won it in the last two, three or four years.
“Their squads are full of strikers and wingers that score 30 or 40 goals a season, midfield players that have won multiple league titles all over the place.
“We have some but we have young players and as a squad, we’re not there. It’s very quickly gone from we were nowhere near good enough after the games against West Brom and Southampton to we are title favourites.
“We’ll have to work through nights like tonight. It was a big test for us, we didn’t pass that test but we will in the future.”
Lampard also blamed the lack of width usually provided by injured wingers Christian Pulisic and Hakim Ziyech, leaving the visitors short on creativity with just 10 attempts on goal.
“There are muscle injuries all over,” he said. “Players who are explosive and at the top end of the pitch are getting injured. Did we miss our wide players? Yes, we did because they’re important for us.”
There will be a third attempt to push for the introduction of five substitutes on Thursday and Lampard hopes “player welfare” will sway the clubs who are opposing the change on the basis it benefits those with deeper squads.
Chelsea were rattled here last season, losing 3-1, and that was the case again as Everton fed off the atmosphere created by their supporters for the first time since March to arrest a slide of just one win in their previous seven games.
28% Possession of the ball Everton had against Chelsea, the lowest the Toffees have ever had in a Premier League win.
“There were only 2,000 (fans) but we are really happy for them. They have seen a good match from Everton, we played well with a fantastic spirit,” said Toffees boss Carlo Ancelotti, whose side also recorded their first clean sheet in 13 games.
“The impact was really strong. It is really important to have the supporters, it is a totally different environment here completely.”
AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS