Frank Lampard: How Much Pressure Is Chelsea Boss Under After Latest Defeat?
The sight of Chelsea’s marquee summer signing Timo Werner crumpling feebly to the floor after kicking the flag instead of the ball while taking a corner summed up one of the most wretched days Frank Lampard has endured as Chelsea manager.
It was of no significance to the outcome, coming two minutes from the end of this magnificent Manchester City procession with Pep Guardiola’s side leading 3-0.
Firstly, the sheer flowing brilliance of City must be fully acknowledged, the final 3-1 scoreline nowhere near a true reflection of their superiority despite having to field a side seriously weakened by Covid-19 and injury.
The manner in which they made light of their reduced circumstances was a serious statement of intent in the context of the Premier League. They had not hit top gear this season but this was overdrive and then some.
As for Chelsea and Lampard, where can you even start after a thoroughly ugly and abysmal 90 minutes that brought their recent decline in form into even sharper focus?
When Chelsea lost 1-0 at Everton on 12 December, it was the end of 17-game unbeaten run that had prompted title talk – albeit talk Lampard was very swift to dismiss.
What Lampard cannot dismiss is what has taken place since.
Four defeats and one draw from their past six league games leave Chelsea in eighth place, admittedly only three points behind Tottenham in fourth having played a game more, but with results, performances and morale on a steep downward trajectory.
Instead, Chelsea were embarrassed as Manchester City cut them apart with first-half goals from Ilkay Gundogan, Phil Foden and Kevin de Bruyne. The latter’s goal, in particular, hinted at a Chelsea team that was completely broken.
It was a lethal combination of the amateurish and the disorganised that saw Chelsea caught upfield from their own free-kick, De Bruyne’s header leaving Raheem Sterling in a straight race with N’Golo Kante. The Belgian cruised upfield to apply the final classy touches as his team-mate’s shot came back off the post.
And to add to that embarrassment, City were without world-class keeper Ederson, Gabriel Jesus, Kyle Walker, Eric Garcia and Ferran Torres as a result of Covid-19 – although they still had Sergio Aguero and Riyad Mahrez to bring on in the closing moments.
Ederson’s replacement, Premier League debutant Zack Steffen, had one anxious moment when he picked up Rodri’s backpass in the opening minutes but other than that the 25-year-old American had the sort of easy introduction he would have dreamed of.
Chelsea’s second-half performance carried no hint of defiance or threat, no confidence or cohesion. They could and should have lost by more but City were on easy street.