Frank Lampard believes his Chelsea side were ‘too nice to play against’ in their defeat to Arsenal on Tuesday night.
Chelsea’s disastrous form since Lampard’s return continued with a 3-1 loss away to Arsenal. Their sixth consecutive defeat since Lampard was appointed as caretaker manager included a complete capitulation in the first half.
Chelsea conceded goals in the 18th, 31st and 34th minutes. Martin Odegaard scored the first two for Arsenal before Gabriel Jesus added to Chelsea’s misery.
After that third goal, the Blues were described by Jamie Carragher as being ‘an absolute mess’ and ’embarrassing’.
They did cut the deficit in the second half when Noni Madueke scored, but there was to be no comeback. As a result, Chelsea remain stuck on 39 points, which keeps them 12th in the Premier League table.
Following the final whistle, Lampard told Match of the Day: “Not good enough first half, that’s what confirms the result. Much better second half, but not good enough first half.
“We were too nice to play against in all aspects in the first half. In the second half we played much more like a team that has a threat up top. In the first half we were too easy to play against.
“It’s tough because you want to win games, but it’s our job, we’ll work on it.”
It would have been unthinkable at the start of the season after Chelsea’s high-spending summer, but they will now be looking over their shoulders, wondering just how low they will finish.
Relegation still seems unlikely, but scarily, it isn’t impossible. Chelsea have games against Bournemouth, Nottingham Forest, Manchester City, Man Utd and Newcastle before the season ends.
Lampard denies Chelsea players don’t care
Lampard added to Sky Sports: “In possession we weren’t playing balls over their press, or winning second balls.
“Chelsea have been a big success for 20 years domestically and in the Champions League; at the moment we’re not in that position. But from the moment I’ve been here it’s been evident we’re too nice as a team.
“We can’t change things overnight but we better get there quickly because we have another game at the weekend and games to come.
“The passive nature of our game you can attribute it to many things. There’s the easy go-to that the players don’t care enough, but they do care. You can be low on confidence but still show a dynamic side to your games. All the things we spoke about before the game we didn’t do.
“We’re a little bit conditioned at the moment which makes us too nice to play against. Maybe it was a different gap years ago but that’s football. We have to think of ourselves and perform to a level. From what this season tells you, from start to finish, we have to find the reasons quickly. It’s not an overnight fix.
“This is something that really has to be corrected. There are a lot of parts to it. Arsenal are a team that has been building for three years. They work on an idea and a way. For me it’s impossible to come in for three weeks and work on those things.
“The main answer is simple. We have to do the basics better and then we’ll get some progress. It’s clear tonight for me. The first half is nowhere near good enough. But it’s the reality. It’s what I’ve come in to.
“Football moves quickly, we have to be aggressive about it. It’s a collective, a performance. I don’t believe players aren’t caring. I don’t believe that. The standards are clear.”