When VAR awarded Dan Gosling’s 84th minute strike, there couldn’t have been many grumbles or signs of surprise from those watching on.
The only aspect that was slightly bewildering was how the goal hadn’t come sooner. The Cherries had broke with speed on Chelsea throughout the second period, pouncing on their mistakes and exploiting their weaknesses.
There was a real sense of Dejavu before, during and after the defeat yesterday. Falling to West Ham by the same scoreline a fortnight previously could’ve given Chelsea enough warning that even against inferior opposition – any dip in application and intensity would prove fatal.
The sense of familiarity might be crossing Chelsea fans minds when they cast their minds back a year to last season. A stark drop in performance and results turned fan opinion and the complexion of the campaign against Maurizio Sarri.
In similar fashion under Sarri at the Bridge, Chelsea would flatter to deceive. They would retain a lot of possession but struggle once getting to the most vital area – the opposition’s box. That slow, languid nature would only seep in more as the second half began and with Chelsea struggling further to create chances, the visitors would grow in confidence. Suddenly space would start to appear for dangerous counter-attacks to form and sooner rather than later, the killer blow would be struck.
All of those ingredients have been in play for Chelsea in the last two home encounters.
The two defeats also add to a shockingly poor start at Stamford Bridge, which now reads that the Blues have only managed to win four (Brighton, Newcastle, Crystal Palace and Aston Villa) out of nine in the Premier League. All of Chelsea’s most exhilarating displays have come on the road – which could be linked to more space being afforded to Chelsea’s bright young attackers who might have struggled with the pressure of a home crowd.
Even looking into the games won, they’ve all been relatively close ties with low score lines – 2-0, 1-0, 2-0, 2-1. All of the victories have come against low blocks – which is what Chelsea are usually confronted with from visiting sides. In three out of the four wins, the game was goalless at half time.
The stark difference between the outcomes of Brighton, Newcastle and Palace in comparison to West Ham and Bournemouth was that the hosts ramped up intensity, quickened up play and took more risks.
Risk is a word uttered by Lampard when he described the need for his players to “have the balls” to take on a man and potentially try something audacious. Before the nights drew in, Lampard was getting that out of his squad.
Chelsea appeared relentless in their pursuit of goals, sometimes to their detriment as it would cost them going the other way. Attack is the best form of defence to the 2019/20 addition of Chelsea and with its dangers, comes its rewards. The most worrying aspect for the 41-year-old will stem from the complete lack of expression and swashbuckling nature to Chelsea’s output against Bournemouth.
“Too slow, too slow. Centre back to centre back, centre back to full back, back to centre back, back centre back to full back.” The use of soo many backs in Lampard’s post-match reflection encapsulated the story.
Chelsea appeared flat, predictable and fatigued in their methods. With the passes slower and easier to read, by the time we got to 65 minutes, it became easier for the visitors to intercept them and start their own attacks. In the opening period, both Antonio Rudiger and Kurt Zouma would attempt to switch play with long diagonals out to the wing, aiming for Christian Pulisic, Emerson, Willian or César Azpilicueta. The plan was to bypass a congested midfield but by either a number of overhit passes, or the increasing expectancy of them from Bournemouth it became another area easily nullified.
Despite 68% possession on the day, most of Chelsea’s ball retention was ineffective. Jorginho’s lovely threaded ball through to Mason Mount in the first half was the closest the Blues got to a dazzling moment of invention. Their other best chance came from Emerson, after a game of head tennis in the box eventually landed on the Italian’s head – whose weak effort gave Aaron Ramsdale little trouble.
A lack of clinical nature and willingness to shoot have been mentioned by Lampard but yesterday Chelsea’s play was never cunning or quick enough to test his criticism.
Fatigue may also be taking its tole on the younger legs, this upcoming midweek will be the first time the Blues have had it free since late August in the gap between the win at Norwich and draw to Sheffield United at home before the first international break of the season.
Transfers (and the lack of them) have seemed to grow in stature in recent weeks after CAS overturned the club’s ban, freeing the club to spend in January. With Chelsea losing 4 out of their last 5 Premier League games after going on a run of six wins previously, additions might be chased as we enter 2020.
The expectation from many at the start of the season was that Chelsea would’ve done remarkably well to find themselves in the top four come the end of the season – so not many can throw their toys out of the pram considering Chelsea will find themselves within that area come Christmas Day.
The big challenge for Lampard is to spark the hungry, pressing nature out of his side which flourished in October as they prepare to face a revitalised Tottenham Hotspur under Jose Mourinho.
Patience was always the key ingredient to this tenure’s longevity and now its required more than ever.
Follow Daniel on Twitter for more opinions on Chelsea Football Club.
You can also watch Daniel’s opinions on Chelsea through his YouTube channel – SonOfChelsea – where he covers all things surrounding the club.