This article is part of Football FanCast’s The Chalkboard series, which provides a tactical insight into teams, players, managers, potential signings and more…
Chelsea managed to edge out Lille 2-1 in the Champions League on Wednesday. Whilst Frank Lampard will be happy with all three points and the first win in the competition of his career, there is one recurring theme that will surely temper his optimism.
The Blues have their Champions League campaign up and running after a disappointing 1-0 loss at Stamford Bridge against Valencia in the opening match.
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Against Les Dogues, Tammy Abraham opened the scoring in the first half, with Willian grabbing the winner towards the end of the second. However, Victor Osimhen was able equalise in between, and it is the nature of his strike that will likely worry Lampard, as it no doubt already has done this campaign.
The former Derby County boss will not have felt his side were really under too much pressure throughout the match, but as the game progressed, he will have been filled with dread each and every time the opposition won a corner or a free-kick in a dangerous position.
Almost every time the ball was whipped in from those areas on Wednesday night, the Blues looked susceptible.
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Chelsea had already looked under pressure in the air before the Nigeria international’s strike, and the ease in which he was able to head past Kepa Arrizabalaga was worrying.
The Blues defended with a zonal marking set-up, so with no-one marking him directly, the 20-year-old was able to get a running jump between Kurt Zouma and Fikayo Tomori, leaving Kepa with no chance.
Lampard cannot be solely blamed for the Blues’ inefficiency from such situations. Last year, they conceded 15 goals from set-pieces in the Premier League, with only Everton and Cardiff shipping more.
This season, they are again towards the top of the list in this regard, having already conceded three. Only Watford and, once again, Everton have done worse. Specifically, in the Champions League, both goals have been conceded from either corners or free-kicks.
As Chelsea’s youngsters continue to adapt to the elite and Lampard settles into life as the manager of a top club, they could do without seeing so many soft goals fly into their net.
Clearly, it is on his mind, and he admitted that set-pieces are “a problem” for the team in his post-match reaction. One can only hope that they will be working around the clock to rectify the issue.