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“It’s the stuff of dreams,” Frank Lampard said after his first game as Chelsea head coach at Stamford Bridge. “But I am here to win.” And it is now three games without a win for Lampard and the harsh reality is that against an impressive Leicester City they were not good enough; they were not the stuff of dreams.
“We need to be tougher and have game management,” he added and after a “first patch” of 25 minutes in which they utterly dominant they were left hanging on in front of their own supporters with Lampard also acknowledging the exasperation. “If there were frustrations in the crowd there were frustrations on the bench and in the team. We want to do well,” he argued. “There are some tough elements to this year.”
It could, certainly, be a testing season at Chelsea but certainly not a dull one. There will not be many goalless draws with Lampard committed to attack as well as youth but having to find the formula to see through games such as this and against sides such as Leicester who, not unreasonably, eye them as catchable this campaign. Right now Lampard is even open to the accusation of being a naïve manager while there was a sign of the pressure he is feeling when he said he had not been given the chance to bring in players because of the Fifa transfer ban.
On this evidence Leicester and Brendan Rodgers have every right to feel optimistic with James Maddison creating chance after chance but spurning the best of all – skying a shot high over the cross-bar – as a carnival atmosphere was transformed into something far more fraught. “We should have won it,” Rodgers said and that was not a boast.
Chelsea have a point from their opening two league games after losing 4-0 away to Manchester United last Sunday – the hapless Avram Grant was the last manager not to win either of his first two league fixtures – sandwiched by the taxing Uefa Super Cup trip in Istanbul which went to extra-time and penalties and evidently took something out of them, as it had done Liverpool, as they struggled long before the end.
“It’s a results business, clearly,” Lampard added. “It’s strange because the performance against Manchester United made me happier than today’s and certainly that against Liverpool. But we need both.”
And quickly, just to appease any concern even if – and this is Chelsea after all so nothing can be taken for granted – they surely have to give him as much time as possible and share the belief that he has in young players such as Mason Mount.
It felt like the 20-year-old would be the story. “Welcome home Super Frank” read the huge banner that was passed along the Shed End prior to kick off and it was appropriate that Mount, a goal-scoring midfielder, made his mark in his full Premier League debut for the club he first trained with aged just six and came through the academy.
Lampard has faith in Mount in a way that none of his predecessors in the Roman Abramovich years has encouraged youth and there was an early dividend when he was sharp to pounce, dispossessing
Wilfried Ndidi as he dawdled with ball on the edge of his own penalty area. Mount took it off him and managed to get a low shot away before he was tackled that swept across Kasper Schmeichel and into the corner of the goal.
Lampard turned and punched the air three times in celebration. In scoring Mount became the first English player to do so for Chelsea under an English manager since Dennis Wise against Blackburn under Glenn Hoddle in 1996 and it capped a fast and furious start. On 40 seconds Pedro had volleyed into the side-netting from Oliver Giroud’s chested pass. On 100 seconds Schmeichel was forced into a double save as he denied Mount and then prevented Christian Pulisic from striking with the follow up.
On seven minutes they scored and there was another chance, a low shot by N’Golo Kante that was crucially deflected narrowly wide by Christian Fuchs, but after what Rodgers acknowledged had been a “tough start” with the crowd’s reaction “feeding into the players” the momentum switched and did so dramatically in the second-half when Maddison got closer to Jamie Vardy and Chelsea struggled.
Maddison dominated and this is where, maybe, continuing using Kante in an advanced midfield position was not working for Chelsea with Jorginho unable to snuff out the danger. There were warning signs and then there was a goal and redemption for Ndidi.
It came as Fuchs, who had a storming second-half from left-back with Ben Chilwell injured, surged forward and won a corner which Maddison took. Ndidi rose easily between Cesar Azpilicueta and Kurt Zouma to plant a header into the net. What would be Chelsea’s response? Lampard made changes but they wilted even more and the fear with the lack of a focus to their attack again realised. The ball was coming back at them too quickly with Caglar Soyuncu, at the heart of Leicester’s defence, proving to be a sound Harry Maguire replacement
and when Maddison had the chance to score, 10 yards out, he steadied himself before fired over.
It did not faze the midfielder who sent Vardy clear with a clever reverse pass only for the striker to shoot across goal before Kepa Arrizabalaga beat out a fierce drive by Youri Tielemans with the final whistle coming as a relief to Chelsea.
“The first patch was how we want to play and the rest of the game was not quite how we want to play,” Lampard reasoned. “We were not good enough in possession… It (the reception) felt great. Obviously it was a special moment for me. It’s the stuff of dreams and the fans were great and I appreciate that but I am here to win for the club and we can do better than we did.” Having spent 13 years at Chelsea Lampard knows, whatever the goodwill towards him, they have to do better.
FULL TIME: Chelsea 1-1 Leicester City
A tale of two halves. Chelsea dominant in the first half but then Leicester worked their way back into it and should have nicked it had Maddison not wasted a superb chance by spooning his shot over the bar. Chelsea look too open at the back and Zouma is worryingly error-prone.
Kepa has to race out of his area and slide with his feet to beat Tielemans who was racing on to a throughball with Chelsea's defence too high.
Vardy is picked out on a near-post run but had made his dart too early and the ball came straight at him too quickly to control. Chelsea a re wide open.
The first of four minutes of added time features scares at either end, Tielemans having a free-run through the heart of Chelsea's midfield until hounded down by Kovacic and then Chelsea break and Abraham slices a shot from 20 yards.
Tielemans is found by Albrighton's reverse pass from the right, cutting the ball back from the byline. Tielemans hits it crisply first time and stings Arrizabalaga's palms.
Leicester free-kick about 30 yards out. They stand it up in the box and Soyuncu does his best but cannot head it goalwards.
Abraham plays a wall pass with his chest to Mount who lashes a volley from 20 yards into Soyuncu. Abraham claims hand ball and Soyuncu puts a flea in his ear for his absurd contention.
Chelsea free-kick for Praet's trip on Kante. It's 30 yards out, on the left. Mount takes it and balloons it into the crowd.
Leicester substitution - Albrighton replaces Ayoze Perez.
Very end-to-end now. Far too open for Jamie Carragher.
Maddison slips Vardy in with an in to out ball down the left. The centre-forward sprints on to it and hammers a left-foot shot across goal which whistles past the far post.
Pedro whips over a deep cross, up goes Abraham and the ball just parts his hair. Nearly.
Maddison is fed from the left by the excellent Fuchs. Tielemans steps over the ball and lets it run. Maddison takes it on, has Vardy free but tacks to the right and spoons a shot from 15 yards on the angle over the bar.
Leicester sub: Choudhury off for Praet. Double Chelsea substitution: Kovacic and Willian on for Jorginho and Pulisic.
The corner also skimmed over Zouma's head. Perhaps he should have dealt with it. Chelsea should have buried Leicester in the first 25 minutes.
Chelsea 1-1 Leicester (Ndidi)Standing by the penalty spot, he feints to hsi left, runs to the near post and bullets in a header from Maddison's superb corner. Azpilicueta, marking zonally, stood his ground but couldn't match the running, jumping Ndidi's momentum.
Fuchs bullocks up the left and whips over a cross that is deflected behind and lands on the roof of the net. Corner.
Perez's turn to try and just fail to put Vardy through behind the Chelsea defence.
Chelsea substitution: Abraham replaces Giroud.
Much better from Leicester this half so far, particularly up the left with Fuchs and Maddison. The latter robs Pedro by the touchline and spurts forward. Vardy holds his run and the pass, bent with the outside of the boot, is intercepted and knocked behind for a corner that Leicester waste.
Pedro returns to the fray. Maddison, found by Fuchs outside the box on the left, has Christensen on toast, turning him inside then out before scooping a left-foot cross, perhaps a shot, beyond the back post.
Actually, scotch that. Pedro was caught on the ankle the replay from the other ankle shows.
Pedro requires lengthy treatment for a mystery injury because he went down away from contact. He is wincing with pain in his right leg. Willian warms up.
Fuchs fires a 30-yarder over the bar. From the goalkick Chelsea pile on the attack and, after several phases, Giroud gets on the end of a cross at the near post but can only float his header straight at Schmeichel.
Maddison plays a throughball to himself slipping it to the left of Christensen with the outside of his left foot, bombing into the box and then dragging Kepa out too try and smother the ball. He takes it past the keeper and drags it back towards the penalty spot for a runner. Mount gets there first and whacks it clear.
Vardy holds up a pass and lays it back to Maddison cutting in off the left. Before he can gets his shot away his standing leg slips and he falls in a heap.
We're off. Maddison tries to thread a pass up to Vardy that Jorginho cuts out. Nothing's worked for them so far. Not sure Maddison is suited to playing wide.
Good start by Chelsea
But they should have a more impressive lead after creating so many chances. They came out of the traps with focus and intensity, as if determined to blitzkrieg Leicester.
The visitors have gradually established a toe-hold but there was little evidence that they can cause Chelsea trouble unless a defender makes a mistake.
Jorginho spanners a volley over from 22 yards after controlling the ball on his chest. As the ball sails into the stand, the ref blows his whistle.
Jonny Evans gives Vardy one to chase up the inside-right, slotting a pass 60 yards. Zouma was well-placed and dealt with it, hooking it out for a throw-in. Pulisic blocks the cross with an outstretched foot and the ball bends his ankle right back. He grimaces in pain but gets back up without treatment.
Leicester are trying to clip crossfield passes from right to left and push Fuchs up high on Azpilicueta . So far no success but it's an interesting ploy given the space between the full-back and Christensen.
Leicester take the free-kick and Ndidi doesn't gamble sufficiently with his run round the back. Had he carried on he may have got there before it spun out of play.
Bad tackle by Jorginho who catches Perez on the top of the ankle. Not with undue force and, after a VAR check, it is agreed it wasn't red-worthy,
Leicester enjoying a spell of possession without penetration. Zouma looks like a weak link for Chelsea, his passing too haphazard, positioning too wayward.
Kepa took a heavy touch with Vardy bearing down on him and managed to recover and poke it away before the tackle came flying in. Jamie Carragher, on co-comms, advised him to launch it and not indulge in any fannying about. Or words to that effect.
Some tomfoolery at the back from Chelsea almost lets Vardy in. Zouma plays it back to Kepa who almost passes it straight to Vardy, flirting too closely with the centre-forward.
Kante misses an excellent chance, tackled by Fuchs from 10 yards. Excellent move from Chelsea who break up the left with Emerson. He plays a low ball in to Giroud running parallel to him and he lays it off to meet Giroud's run. He can't get the shot away before Fuchs, on the cover from left-back, dives in to save the day.
Soyuncu wins a header from a long diagonal pumped into the box.
Great chance for Mount. Azpilicueta chips a cross over from the right to Mount who is halfway between the six-yard line and the penalty spot. It dips on him and perhaps he could have volleyed it but sticks with his instinct to head, stoops and steers it tamely into Schmeichel's midriff.
Some of the air has come out of the balloon now as Leicester settle. Perez wins the ball in midfield and dribbles forward but Jorginho steps up to block-tackle him.
Kante overhits his chest trap and Ndidi wins it back, setting up Ricardo for a run up the inside-right channel. Vardy makes the run from middle to right, sprinting diagonally but Ricardo releases too soon, allowing Kepa to come out and smother three yards inside his box before Vardy can get there.
Leicester establishing a foothold now, slowly, through possession and keeping the ball at the back.
Fuchs takes it long, Delapping it in into the box where Zouma deals with it ruggedly.
Someone is impersonating Pedro. He has all the skill of the Spain winger but is actually tackling and playing with vigour and constant intensity. At last Leicester have a spell of possession and Maddison, on the half-turn, earns a throw-in.
Leicester simply cannot cope with a rampant Chelsea. They're being torn apart by slick passing and terrific movement.
GOAL!! Chelsea 1-0 Leicester (Mount)
It's been coming. Chelsea play it short, Schmeichel rolling it to Soyuncu who plays it up to Ndidi facing the goal in the D. Mount blindsides him to rob the ball, takes a step then as he stumbles forward, wraps his right foot round the ball to spear a low shot past a flat-footed Schmeichel.
Chelsea again make inroads up the right and earn a throw-in when Leicester, blitzed, hustle it out of play. Fuchs has barely played for 18 months and has Azpilicueta and Pedro sprinting at him. Needs help.
Chelsea have started like a train, lovely pass from Jorginho laid off by Giroud puts Mount through the middle and his snap shot is scrambled away for a corner. The corner is spun in, beats every defender and scoots through the box. Only needed one Chelsea player to follow it in.
Chelsea kick off and move the ball up the right before switching it over to Pulisic and back again. Azpilicueta fires over a cross, Giroud cushions it down and Pedro flashes his volley into the side-netting from 12 yards on an angel of about 60 degrees. Should have scored.
Out come the teams
A family affair for Frank Lampard with his father and Uncle Harry Redknapp in the crowd to roar him on. Lampard Jnr emerges from the tunnel to a resounding reception.
Leicester are playing in pink today
Here's fashion's Thom Gibbs with his verdict:
Sorry for late commencement, have been doing cricket, which is compelling and worth a look if you have any taste. Alan Tyers is covering England's quest for a remarkable victory. Over here, in the one true faith department, Sheffield United have beaten a very lacklustre Crystal Palace 1-0 which leaves the ninth match of the weekend for our delectation.
And what we have is Frank Lampard's first home match as Chelsea manager. They played well on the front foot for an hour at Old Trafford and were encouragingly bright in Istanbul without reward.
Leicester began with that draw with Wolves that was so dreary only the VAR controversy that ruled out a Wolves goal was worthy of much significant debate afterwards. Brendan Rodgers is an attack-minded manager and will have a go. Claude Puel managed a 1-0 victory there last December with a counter-attacking approach. Given Old Trafford, that would seem to be Rodgers' best policy, too.
Leicester team news
Leicester:Schmeichel, Ricardo Pereira, Evans, Soyuncu, Fuchs, Ndidi, Perez, Tielemans, Choudhury, Maddison, Vardy. Subs: Justin, Morgan, Albrighton, Ward, Iheanacho, Barnes, Praet.
How Chelsea line up
Chelsea:Arrizabalaga, Azpilicueta, Christensen, Zouma, Emerson Palmieri, Kante, Jorginho, Pedro, Mount, Pulisic, Giroud.
Subs: Alonso, Barkley, Abraham, Willian, Caballero, Kovacic, Tomori.
'Chelsea can challenge for trophies under Lampard'
Olivier Giroud has hailed the positivity of new Chelsea coach Frank Lampard and believes they can challenge for trophies again this season.
Lampard, Chelsea's all-time leading goalscorer, replaced Maurizio Sarri in the summer - the Italian spending just one season at Stamford Bridge and delivering the Europa League and a top-three finish.
After a 13-year playing career in west London, Lampard was appointed to much fanfare and takes charge of his first home game when Leicester visit in the Premier League this afternoon.
His reign as Chelsea boss started with a 4-0 defeat at Manchester United before a penalty shoot-out loss to Liverpool in the Super Cup on Wednesday night.
But Giroud, who opened the scoring against the Champions League winners in Istanbul, reckons Lampard's man management is key to Chelsea enjoying a good season.
"He always tries to be very positive," Giroud said. "He won't be too tough with us when we are not doing too well, but he also won't put us 'over the moon' when we are playing well.
"He is always trying to analyse well the situation. He said he was proud of our performance (against Liverpool) and it is tough to lose like we did, on penalties, but we have to keep our head up."
Giroud feels a strong unity between the squad and the new coaching staff will also contribute to any success.
"The most important thing was to keep the confidence high, have personality to play with freedom and clearly we did that," he said of the Liverpool performance.
"We were very strong and we can build good things from that for the future. This squad is still very strong in terms of both quality and quantity.
"So I have no worries and I think we have a superb mentality. We are all pointing in the same direction, with the same targets and I'm pretty sure we can do good things and challenge for trophies.
"We have good hope to look forward, and winning our first home game of the season would be very important for us."
While Giroud started against Liverpool, Lampard could opt to recall Tammy Abraham, who started against United and came off the bench before missing the decisive penalty in midweek.