Frank Lampard simply wasn’t willing to wait until the half to see whether or not his Chelsea 11 could get the best possible result having started their away match against Arsenal in a formation featuring three central defenders.
After watching it work to perfection against Tottenham then get exposed in a loss to Southampton on Boxing Day, the rookie manager decided that he’d seen enough following Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s 13th-minute header on Sunday.
Lampard took left-back Emerson Palmieri out in the 34th minute, sending Jorginho on to replace the former AS Roma defender, who had been operating as a wing-back. With the Italy international slotting into the midfield, Cesar Azpilicueta was moved to right-back and Fikayo Tomori was asked to operate as a full-back on the opposite flank.
It didn’t take long for Chelsea to reassert their dominance; Jorginho’s impact was immediately clear. But they had to wait for what seemed like an eternity to get back level. Incidentally, the midfielder was the one who got the Blues off the mark, scoring seven minutes from the 90 to get his side back on terms. Tammy Abraham completed the comeback with a goal of his own in the 87th minute and the Stamford Bridge side were able to see the game through rather comfortably, in spite of the seven extra minutes added on.
Apart from showing a willingness to change things mid-game in order to get a result, Lampard also exhibited bravery, handing 19-year-old Tariq Lamptey his senior debut in the second half.
Lamptey, a diminutive and relatively unknown Chelsea academy player, hardly put a foot wrong and nearly got himself an assist after working an impressive pass into Abraham. The substitution likely left folks wondering how a manager could call upon an unproven player in such an important game. But Lampard’s faith in the youngster paid off, although he’s refused to take credit for it.
“Tariq Lamptey is a credit to Jody Morris and Joe Edwards because when we sat and analysed the last two days and we knew Cesar Azpilicueta had a small injury and Reece James is injured then we are looking at options for a right-back or right wing-back,” the Chelsea boss told reporters after the game, per Metro.
“It is a tough game to come on with the responsibility to try to turn it, and Jody said yeah, no problem, and when he drove inside and slipped Tammy in for a shot, it was a great example of someone coming on a bit fearless and sometimes you get that with youth.”
Chelsea can hardly boast performing to the best of their ability on the day but they did show that heart and fight they’ve become known for. Lampard’s tactical flexibility is perhaps most responsible for the win and he must have learned from the mistakes he made against Southampton last week, given the urgency with which he implemented his changes in the first half.
The Blues are 4/7 to remain in the top four until the end of the season with William Hill and footie fans keen on making Premier League bets this season could find the UK’s best betting sites on thebookiesoffers.co.uk.
Arsenal are currently 33/1 with Bet365 as a top-four finish looks very unlikely given that they’re now 12th on the Premier League table. Leicester City are 1/6 for the honour while Tottenham and Manchester United are both 5/2 while Wolverhampton Wanderers are 14/1.
United are now just four points away from Chelsea, having climbed to fifth in the standings and look set to chase the Blues the rest of the way. Both clubs employ relatively inexperienced managers whose situations seem similar but are actually far from comparable.
Let’s see how things play out.