Frank Lampard’s second spell as Chelsea manager begins in defeat
LONDON – Different manager, same old Chelsea.
Interim manager Frank Lampard’s second spell as Blues boss got off to an underwhelming start after a 1-0 away defeat by Wolverhampton Wanderers at Molineux on Saturday. The Blues have now won just four of their last 21 Premier League matches.
Lampard told the BBC: “I thought the performance in the first half was 70 per cent or so. It was enough for it to be an even game and there was a rocket from them out of nowhere.
“In the second half, there was more energy, more chances and we got more people in the box.
“We have been working here for one or two days and it’s about the mindset of the team... When I say mindset, it’s not necessarily a negative. You have to get used to winning and make it a habit.”
Chelsea’s all-time leading scorer with 211 goals restored Conor Gallagher and Raheem Sterling to the starting line-up and brought Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang off the bench in his first match since replacing Graham Potter, who was sacked last Sunday.
Lampard, who won 13 trophies as a Chelsea player, previously managed the club from July 2019 to January 2021 during Roman Abramovich’s ownership.
Despite a transfer embargo, he guided the club to a fourth-place finish in 2019-2020, winning 20 of 38 league games and reaching the FA Cup final, before being sacked the following season after a difficult second campaign.
The former Everton manager did not get off to a similarly good start in his second spell at Chelsea.
The only goal by Julen Lopetegui’s side came on 31 minutes via Matheus Nunes’ wonderful half-volley from the right side of the penalty box, which sailed over Blues goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga and into the net.
While clear-cut chances were few and far between, Wolves were comfortably the better side.
This despite Lampard throwing on Aubameyang, Mykhailo Mudryk, Ben Chilwell and Christian Pulisic to try and turn the game.
“It’s a big task managing Chelsea. We know we’re not in a position we want to be in,” Lampard told AFP.
“I didn’t expect to solve everything in one day. You have to have more aggression in your game, more speed and more competitive duels which go your way.
“The players need to be aware of that because without that you can’t win games. It was interesting to see anyway, I’m here to help with that. It’s not stinging criticism, I know there’s a lot of talent there.”
Elsewhere in the Premier League, there were contrasting landmark moments for attackers Son Heung-min and Ivan Toney.
Fifth-placed Tottenham Hotspur’s Son opened the scoring against Brighton & Hove Albion with a lovely curling effort from outside the box, becoming the first Asian player to score 100 Premier League goals.
It helped Spurs secure a 2-1 win, with Harry Kane scoring the winner 11 minutes from time after Lewis Dunk equalised for the Seagulls, who dropped to seventh with in-form Aston Villa leapfrogging them into sixth following a 2-0 win over relegation-threatened Nottingham Forest.
Spurs and Brighton’s Italian managers Cristian Stellini and Roberto de Zerbi were both sent off after a heated row between the coaching staff of both teams. Referee Stuart Attwell dismissed the pair for failing to control their technical area.
De Zerbi had confronted his compatriot before the match, reportedly taking exception to the Spurs interim boss’ pre-match comments.
Stellini had suggested de Zerbi’s successes were largely down to the work of his predecessor Potter, who left for Chelsea in September.
Brentford’s Toney, meanwhile, ended a run of 24 successful spot kicks after his tame effort was saved by Newcastle United and England custodian Nick Pope at the Brentford Community Stadium on 29 minutes.
Not that it dented the England forward’s confidence as he returned to the penalty spot in first-half added time to equalise for the Bees.
But the Magpies responded to Manchester United’s 2-0 win over Everton earlier on Saturday to return to third with a 2-1 win thanks to a David Raya own goal and a winner by in-form forward Alexander Isak.