Tired Blues need 'personality' to win

Leicester's James Maddison (centre) fails to score at point-blank range in front of Chelsea goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga in the 1-1 Premier League stalemate between the two sides at Stamford Bridge on Sunday, stretching Frank Lampard's winless tenure
Leicester's James Maddison (centre) fails to score at point-blank range in front of Chelsea goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga in the 1-1 Premier League stalemate between the two sides at Stamford Bridge on Sunday, stretching Frank Lampard's winless tenure as Chelsea manager to three matches. PHOTO: ASSOCIATED PRESS

"Super Frank Lampard" is still winless after three games as Blues head to Norwich

LONDON • Frank Lampard admitted fatigue was a factor after Chelsea were held 1-1 at home by Leicester in the Premier League, but demanded that his men show more "personality".

The Foxes, led by Brendan Rodgers who was formerly part of Chelsea's coaching staff, gatecrashed Lampard's home debut to leave the former Stamford Bridge favourite still winless after three games as Blues boss.

"I hate the tiredness excuse but it has to be a factor in the second half. I feel for the players on that," said the 41-year-old, whose men lost to Liverpool on penalties in the European Super Cup in midweek.

"If by being better on the ball, we don't have to run as much, there's game management. There are some real lessons from today."

Chelsea had started dangerously against both Manchester United and Liverpool only to struggle once the opposition adapted. So did Leicester. Heavy pressing and fast transitions might have stolen the match for the visitors late on had James Maddison or Youri Tielemans finished less hastily.

It was a very different mood before kick-off, when chants of "Super Frank Lampard" and banners acclaiming the club legend was followed by a lively start and a seventh-minute lead.

Mason Mount picked the pockets of Wilfred Ndidi before a crisp finish for his first Chelsea goal. But the Nigerian midfielder atoned for his mistake by heading home a well-deserved equaliser on 67 minutes.

TOUGH START

It's a results business clearly. The performance against United, and certainly Liverpool, made me happier than this one strangely.

FRANK LAMPARD, Chelsea manager, on his side's 1-1 draw with Leicester.

The Europa League winners' lethargic second half could easily have led to defeat and Lampard said: "The first 25 minutes was how we want to play and the rest of it wasn't. We left far too many spaces.

"That was a disappointing thing.We have to have more personality. We saw that in midweek but, today, we didn't have that."

He is still seeking the right blend of solidity and creativity in midfield and his first week of competitive action has exposed his options.

Their best display arguably came in the Super Cup, when the 4-2-3-1 he had hoped to implement was tweaked for something more akin to a 4-3-3, with Jorginho as its central anchor. N'Golo Kante had operated to the right in a role similar to that inflicted on him by Maurizio Sarri, but still thrived.

At times against Leicester, who were dominant after the interval, Chelsea yearned for proper control. With Jorginho and Kante labouring and Mateo Kovacic still lacking dynamism, perhaps three is the way to go given how easily they lost grip in central areas.

Lampard will look for his first win at Norwich on Saturday, having been thumped 4-0 at United in their league opener.

But with just one year of managerial experience at second-tier Derby last season, he knows he is facing a baptism of fire.

"We have had a tough start, to go to Manchester and get beaten the way we did then lose the Super Cup when I thought we were the better team," he said.

"It's a results business clearly. The performance against United, and certainly Liverpool, made me happier than this one strangely."

His adoring fans may have been less happy at the final whistle, but he was touched by the welcome home, saying: "It was a big special moment for me. To manage the club at Stamford Bridge is the stuff of dreams.

"If there was any frustration from the fans, it was shared by everyone on the bench.

"We are all in it together."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, THE GUARDIAN

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 20, 2019, with the headline 'Tired Blues need 'personality' to win'. Print Edition | Subscribe