3 Tactical issues Chelsea must address to improve performances
Chelsea have had a mixed start to life under Frank Lampard. The Blues started the season really well but have lost momentum in recent weeks with a few losses and draws ruining the new-manager bounce they had till November.
However, Chelsea still find themselves in a strong position in the league, sitting in fourth place. They have a five-point lead over Tottenham Hotspur in fifth place, are into the last sixteen of the Champions League and progressed in the FA Cup. Their transfer ban has also been lifted, enabling them to strengthen their squad to reflect their ambitions.
Tactically, Chelsea have largely been energetic with their press and played positive football. However, certain underlying issues have come to the fore in recent weeks during losses to the likes of West Ham, Bournemouth and Everton.
Here are the three tactical issues Lampard must address to arrest Chelsea's string of inconsistent displays.
#1 Defending set-pieces
Chelsea have conceded 29 goals so far this season. In the initial stages, their defence looked quite solid, especially with youngster Fikayo Tomori forming a strong partnership with Kurt Zouma. However, the general inexperience in the defence has shown as the season has heated up with Tomori losing form and his place.
Zouma and Rudiger have also made several high-profile errors and struggle to marshall the defence like how Gary Cahill and John Terry would. Chelsea's defending of set-pieces is nervous and they face a disadvantage because of the lack of physicality they have in the squad.
Apart from the centre-backs, few Chelsea players are particularly tall or physical in defending set-pieces.
This means that opposition sides can have a 3v2 or 4v2 situational advantage against the Chelsea defence. With just two players capable of defending aerial balls, Chelsea are powerless to defend near-post headers or flicks as seen in the game against Arsenal when the opening goal came from a set-piece.
Since the physical situation is not something that can be addressed immediately, Lampard needs to instruct his players to defend the central zones better and remain more compact rather than contesting balls they cannot win.