Frank Lampard is still searching for his first win as Chelsea manager after suffering a defeat to Liverpool penalties in the Super Cup on Wednesday evening.
But as with the 4-0 loss to Manchester United last Sunday, Lampard has positives to take from the defeat in Istanbul as Chelsea caused the Champions League holders plenty of problems throughout the game.
Chelsea will now turn their attention to their game against Leicester City and their Super Cup clash has given Lampard plenty of issues to consider ahead of his return to Stamford Bridge.
GIROUD SHOULD BE CHELSEA’S NO.1 STRIKER
Jose Mourinho singled out Tammy Abraham for criticism after the defeat at Old Trafford on Sunday and suggested that Lampard should have relied upon the experience of Olivier Giroud for such a high-profile fixture.
On the evidence of his performance in Instanbul, Mourinho’s point is valid as Giroud caused problems for Liverpool’s defence and showed why Chelsea possess one of the best strikers at hold-up play in the Premier League.
Giroud became more isolated in the second half but in the opening 45 minutes, he constantly caused Joel Matip and Virgil van Dijk problems and his ability to bring Christian Pulisic and Pedro into the game was a pivotal part of Chelsea’s attack.
Giroud’s movement for Chelsea’s opening goal was also excellent as he spotted Matip being pulled out of position by Pulisic’s run, darted away from the Liverpool centre-back and finished low past Adrian.
Abraham, in contrast, still needs work on his movement in between defenders. In the 82nd minute, Kante cut the ball back inside Liverpool’s box but it was Pedro who had made the movement to meet the pass, Abraham, meanwhile, had shifted himself backwards towards the edge of the area.
The 21-year-old did manage to win Chelsea’s penalty in extra time with a quick burst of speed ahead of Adrian but he needs to show more to prove he should be starting ahead of Giroud.
KANTE CAN PLAY IN AN ADVANCED ROLE
Much of the criticism directed at Maurizio Sarri last season was his decision to oust N’Golo Kante from his role as midfield anchor and replace him with Jorginho.
But to the surprise of many, Lampard opted to stick with Sarri’s reliance on Jorginho at the heart of Chelsea’s midfield as Kante played on the right of a midfield three against Liverpool.
One of the biggest drawbacks with this idea is that Kante’s attacking play was not good enough to make a difference for Chelsea in the final third.
For all the good Kante can do at breaking up play and winning the ball back, he looked lost last season when he got to the edge of the opposition box, not knowing whether to shoot or pass.
But in the Super Cup, Kante looked almost a completely different player as he moved with purpose in possession and caused problems for Liverpool defensively.
For Giroud’s opener, it was Kante who won the ball against Milner and instead of opting for the safe pass, he advanced forward before offloading to Pulisic, who provided the assist for the Chelsea striker.
PULISIC SHOWS PROMISE
Christian Pulisic has a huge void to fill on Chelsea’s left flank following Eden Hazard’s departure and after the 4-0 defeat at Old Trafford, Lampard admitted he was cautious about throwing the 20-year-old into the mix too quickly.
But his performance against Liverpool was very encouraging as he provided an excellent pass for Giroud’s goal and saw his own effort, a low strike from the edge of the area past Adrian, ruled out for offside.
Both Emerson and Pulisic looked threatening on Chelsea’s left flank and the United States international caused Liverpool problems with his incisive passes, sharp movement off the ball and dribbles which put Klopp’s defence on the back foot.
Pedro also had an excellent game operating behind Giroud and both he and Pulisic should be in the frame to keep their place ahead of Sunday’s clash against Leicester City.
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