Mount and Kovacic impressed in the manager’s first victory, but a lack of clinical edge up front could cause the Blues issues going forward
Frank Lampard has finally gotten his first win as Chelsea manager. After the disappointment of conceding a late, late equaliser against League of Ireland side Bohemians on Wednesday, the Blues did not let history repeat itself as they dominated St Patrick’s Athletic to finish off their early pre-season preparations in Dublin. Lampard’s Chelsea now fly out to Japan to take on Kawasaki Frontale and Barcelona, but the same concerns remain – can the Europa League champions rely on Olivier Giroud to provide the goals yet again?
Chelsea fielded two entirely different XIs as Lampard focuses on building the fitness of his players and gets to know his squad. The first-half saw the Blues play in a 4-4-2 diamond with a frontline of Tammy Abraham and Michy Batshuayi, but despite having nine shots between them, neither could find the net. St Pat’s were no match for Chelsea for large spells of the match, having made nine changes from the side which played in Europa League qualifying just two days earlier.
However, it was Chelsea’s midfield that did all the hard work in attack. Mateo Kovacic, now a permanent fixture after the Blues activated the purchase option in his loan, provided the assist for the opener, splitting the defence in two to gift Mason Mount a goal. The 20-year-old finished smartly and was deserving of his goal after putting in an excellent all-round performance. Having spent last season on loan at Lampard’s Derby, both manager and midfielder already know how to work together and Mount should get plenty of opportunities to shine back at his parent club.
Ross Barkley sat at the tip of the diamond and was brimming with confidence, exposing weaknesses in the Saints backline, and it was his layoff that allowed Emerson to score from the edge of the area. Goalkeeper Barry Murphy really should have done better with the first-time shot, but was kept busy throughout and it was a rare slip from the recent Republic of Ireland call-up.
Murphy had a much easier job stopping Abraham’s goalbound effort, with the forward having lots of time on the round ball in the box but failing to make the right decision at the crucial moment. Strike partner Batshuayi was better, forcing a couple of saves and was generally busy across the attack, looking to make a name for himself in pre-season.
With hard-working performances like the ones on display in Dublin, Batshuayi stands the best chance of getting regular gametime in attack, but Lampard and Chelsea will probably need the goals to come from Giroud, just like under Sarri in 2018-19. The World Cup winner came on at half-time and was the lone frontman as Lampard changed to a 4-2-3-1, the formation he has been probably more likely to play in competitive matches and for the rest of pre-season when Christian Pulisic and Willian join up with the squad.
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Giroud gifted Pedro a golden opportunity just after the break with a lovely flick, but the Spanish winger fired straight at goalkeeper Murphy. Pedro repeated the feat a few minutes later when through on goal again, requiring Giroud himself to come up with the goods and turn in a perfectly-delivered cross from Kenedy. The Frenchman added a second late on after good pressing high up the pitch, finishing coolly into the bottom corner to once again prove his worth.
Chelsea’s second-half side gave gametime to Tiemoue Bakayoko, back from his loan at AC Milan, but he was disappointing in possession, despite the opposition. On one occasion, the midfielder passed the round ball straight out of play, receiving some sarcastic commentary from local fans shortly after.
Blues fans at Richmond Park belted out ‘Super Frank Lampard’ throughout the game and the Chelsea legend will be pleased to have picked up a 4-0 victory in his second pre-season game. However, with less than a month until their Premier League campaign kicks off against Manchester United, Chelsea’s new manager seems to have inherited the problems of his predecessor, wondering where the goals will come from in attack yet again.