Monday 11 November 2019

Lampard picks area of concern after nervy victory over lowly Watford

Chelsea manager Frank Lampard. Photo: REUTERS/David Klein
Chelsea manager Frank Lampard. Photo: REUTERS/David Klein

Nick Szczepanik

For most of Saturday's match at Vicarage Road, the abiding memory looked likely to be of Chelsea attacking in near-irresistible waves while Watford goalkeeper Ben Foster mounted a heroic and almost lone resistance.

In the end the defining image was Chelsea 'keeper Kepa Arrizabalaga's last-second save from Foster's header to preserve a 2-1 win and three points that should never have been in question.

Fourth place, a fifth successive Premier League victory and a seventh away win on the spin in all competitions confirm that this Chelsea side has almost everything required of a top team: attacking talent, resolute, athletic defenders, and the potential to improve. But the last is arguably the most crucial because as yet the quality they lack is the ability to sustain all their other strengths over 90 minutes.

Frank Lampard, the manager, agreed when asked how close his team is to becoming the finished article. "At times we are certainly producing some of the form that I want from us," he said.

"Our work off the ball in some games where we have been pushed hard, like Ajax away and Liverpool, has really pleased me. They have worked on that in training to a level where they are fit enough.


"In periods of games I am pleased with the way we combine and switch the ball. If I've got a gripe it is that we are not sustaining that for long enough at a time."

His explanation? "Maybe it's football. Look at today. Liverpool go away and are behind for long periods, Man City (too). So maybe I'm being a bit demanding. You have to respect the opponents."

Cesar Azpilicueta, the captain, felt that the issue on Saturday was the failure to add further goals to those scored by Tammy Abraham and Christian Pulisic. "We were dominant, especially in the first half, and then we went to the opposite side and we had to suffer for the last 10 minutes," he said.

"We had the chance to be more clinical and we know in the Premier League, there is nothing taken for granted when you are 2-0 up."

That, surely, is the point. There will always be matches in which chances are missed or, as here, a goalkeeper proves nearly unbeatable.

Watford, meanwhile, set an unwanted club record of 11 games without a win from the start of a season, but goalkeeper Foster believes that run will end soon.

"Once we get our first win under the belt, we can push on. I've never scored, and this was the closest I've ever come. Fair play to Kepa, it was a really good save. I just closed my eyes and hoped for the best."

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