Chelsea vs Arsenal: Identity still proving elusive for Frank Lampard amid chaos in mistake-ridden draw with rivals

When some of Arsenal’s players ask questions of Mikel Arteta’s instructions, he generally responds with the same comment.

“Speak on the pitch.”

It’s a line that has echoes of something Antonio Conte once said, when he was still searching for a defined approach in his own early days at Chelsea.

Download the new Independent Premium app

Sharing the full story, not just the headlines

“The pitch is the truth,” the Italian said. “The pitch speaks.”

The current players speak well of Frank Lampard at the club’s Cobham training ground, but there is also an acknowledgement that he “isn’t Conte”. While those same players grew tired of the Italian and didn’t like him all that much, they knew he was a manager in his prime who was having instant positive effect on their careers. There isn’t quite the same expectation with Lampard, as they know he himself is still learning on the job, still forming his identity – just as Conte was with Atalanta and Siena.


Ratings: Chelsea vs Arsenal





1/22 Kepa Arrizabalaga 4

2/22 Cesar Azpilicueta 7

3/22 Antonio Rudiger 6

4/22 Andreas Christensen 5

5/22 Emerson Palmieri 5

6/22 N’Golo Kante 5

7/22 Mateo Kovacic 5

8/22 Jorginho 7

9/22 Callum Hudson-Odoi 6

10/22 Willian 5

11/22 Tammy Abraham 6

12/22 Bernd Leno 6

13/22 Hector Bellerin 6

14/22 Shkodran Mustafi 4

15/22 David Luiz 3

16/22 Bukayo Saka 6

17/22 Granit Xhaka 6

18/22 Lucas Torreira 6

19/22 Mesut Ozil 5

20/22 Nicolas Pepe 5

21/22 Alexandre Lacazette 6

22/22 Gabriel Martinelli 8

1/22 Kepa Arrizabalaga 4

2/22 Cesar Azpilicueta 7

3/22 Antonio Rudiger 6

4/22 Andreas Christensen 5

5/22 Emerson Palmieri 5

6/22 N’Golo Kante 5

7/22 Mateo Kovacic 5

8/22 Jorginho 7

9/22 Callum Hudson-Odoi 6

10/22 Willian 5

11/22 Tammy Abraham 6

12/22 Bernd Leno 6

13/22 Hector Bellerin 6

14/22 Shkodran Mustafi 4

15/22 David Luiz 3

16/22 Bukayo Saka 6

17/22 Granit Xhaka 6

18/22 Lucas Torreira 6

19/22 Mesut Ozil 5

20/22 Nicolas Pepe 5

21/22 Alexandre Lacazette 6

22/22 Gabriel Martinelli 8

It is why it can be a bit hard to decipher what the pitch says right now with all of this current trend of playing legends thrown into big coaching jobs.

It is certainly fair to say, however, that none of them – not Lampard, not Arteta, not Ole Gunnar Solskjaer – are exactly having the impact Pep Guardiola did at Barcelona.

That may of course feel a facile point, and it’s not to say there haven’t been positives, but there is a bit more to it.

After a tough first two games at Barcelona in 2008-09, Guardiola instantly proved himself a spectacular success, and effectively set the trend for this type of appointment… that has led to now. That is why, when it is asked why exactly these big clubs entrust these massive jobs to figures of such limited experience, the Catalan’s case is always brought up.

One significant difference was that Guardiola had effectively gone on a personal managerial education, travelling the world to learn everything about the trade from great football ideologues, before taking the ultimate finishing school role for a Barcelona coach in taking over their B team.

There’s also the rather important difference that Guardiola is clearly a once-in-a-lifetime genius, and evidently one of the greatest managers in history.

It is why he isn’t part of a trend, so much, but a complete exception, and shouldn’t really be mentioned in such discussions. It is also why it is so much harder to decipher what the pitch says right now about the followers in this trend, in the Premier League.

All may be huge playing figures, but all have come from different coaching backgrounds, and have been thrown into different contexts. All actually have their jobs because of relative problems at their clubs, rather than the forces of their personality.

Lampard had one acceptable season at Derby County, before being appointed by Chelsea, who were willing to go through a transition and needed the right figure to match that. That right figure for once wasn’t a big results-right-now name.

Solskjaer had succeeded at Molde but brought Cardiff City down to the bottom end of the Championship, only to almost jolt a struggling United into a massive decision through one surge of form.

Arteta learned from the best in Guardiola, and showed abundant ideas in his Arsenal interviews, which impressed upon an institution so short of managerial options.

None, however, have come anywhere close to fully applying their vision of football. All have different impediments to that.

It was why Roy Keane was, in a curious way, someway wrong to draw the immediate comparison between Lampard and Solskjaer on Sunday. They are broadly similar appointments, sure, but within very different parameters.

Tuesday’s Chelsea-Arsenal match was an indication of so much of this.

It was simply a game between two sides so very far from being the finished product, with that most applying to the managers themselves.

Any positives or negatives almost completely come down to relative point of view at this point, with both arguable either way.

Lampard lamented how they didn’t take their chances, and should have 10 more points, but an easy response is that they remain too easy to get at.

Arteta lionised the grit and resilience of his team, but we have only seen brief periods of the football blueprint he was supposed to supply.

It is something of an irony that David Luiz’s red card undercut Arteta’s overall gameplan, but then probably ensured Arsenal played in the way they actually should have for this match, against an open Chelsea.

The pitch did end up speaking the truth in that regard. It offered up a lot of unformed chaos – much like these teams.

Source: Read Full Article