'Huge players' give Blues a lift

Werner and Havertz show promise as first of the new signings make Chelsea debut

Timo Werner winning Chelsea's spot kick after being brought down by Brighton goalkeeper Mat Ryan. Blues' boss Frank Lampard feels his speed will pose a big threat to rival defences. PHOTO: EPA-EFE
Timo Werner winning Chelsea's spot kick after being brought down by Brighton goalkeeper Mat Ryan. Blues' boss Frank Lampard feels his speed will pose a big threat to rival defences. PHOTO: EPA-EFE

LONDON • Frank Lampard believes Chelsea are already showing the benefits of his £200 million (S$350.8 million) spending spree as they kicked off their Premier League campaign with a 3-1 win at Brighton on Monday.

The Blues manager has splashed out on a host of new signings and the early returns on his lavish investment were promising.

Germany striker Timo Werner, a £53 million recruit from Leipzig, won the penalty that Jorginho converted to put Chelsea ahead.

Kai Havertz, who made a £70 million switch from Bayer Leverkusen, was not quite so impactful, but Lampard will be confident there are better days to come from the 21-year-old Germany forward.

"Timo's speed to win the penalty showed he is sharp and he was a threat all night. He is very mobile and I liked his performance," Lampard said. "With Kai, we saw a lot as well. To get these minutes will only be good and both of them will be huge players for this club."

Kepa Arrizabalaga was guilty of another mistake when Leandro Trossard equalised for Brighton with a 20-metre shot that slipped under the Chelsea goalkeeper's weak attempted save.

But Reece James' superb strike put Chelsea back in front before Kurt Zouma sealed the points.

It was an encouraging result for Lampard, who has accepted he is under pressure to deliver a title challenge after spending more than any other club so far in the summer.

"I think to expect everything to click on day one is very difficult. But what they did do was show a bit of determination," he said.

"I really liked the work ethic and the discipline of the team. We've been together as a team for four days after the international break."

Chelsea finished 33 points behind champions Liverpool in fourth last season before a disappointing FA Cup final defeat by Arsenal, but they are primed to improve if the new signings can gel.

  • 2,000

    Chelsea became the third team to earn 2,000 points in the Premier League, after Manchester United (2,234) and Arsenal (2,014).

Lampard's other expensive recruits, former Ajax playmaker Hakim Ziyech and ex-Leicester left-back Ben Chilwell, were both sidelined by injuries, while Thiago Silva was not available due to a lack of match fitness following his free transfer from Paris Saint-Germain.

The only frustration for Lampard was Arrizabalaga's howler.

The Spaniard is under pressure after an error-strewn season, and with Chelsea having spoken to Rennes about Senegal goalkeeper Edouard Mendy, his days as first choice might be numbered.

Insisting he has not written him off yet, Lampard said: "I'm happy with Kepa, I saw confidence in him, he's here and I'm happy with him."

 
 

But former Manchester United defender Gary Neville, working as a pundit for Sky Sports, said he must get rid of the world's most expensive goalkeeper at £71 million if Chelsea are to contest for the title.

"You won't win the league with a keeper who is letting goals in from outside his box, doesn't dominate his area, concedes from set pieces, it's not going to happen," he said.

According to Sky Sports, Kepa's error was the 19th time he has conceded from outside the penalty area since arriving two years ago, more than any other stopper.

 
 

Lampard is also hopeful that Werner can shake off a leg knock in time for Sunday's home league clash with champions Liverpool.

"He took a knock when he won the penalty, which we hope is a dead leg," he said. "I would like to think we have a bit of time to get him back (for the Reds game)."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 16, 2020, with the headline ''Huge players' give Blues a lift'. Print Edition | Subscribe