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No honey moon for Lampard…4 points from EPL weekend fixtures

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Chelsea Coach, Frank Lampard (Photo Credit: GettyImages)

By James Ojo

  1. Frank Lampard faces an uphill task ahead

4-0. It was arguably the most humiliating way for Frank Lampard to kickstart his reign at Chelsea. However, his side’s thumping by Manchester United only buttress obvious feelings that the new gaffer faces an uphill task ahead of the 2019-2020 season, given the transfer ban slammed on Chelsea.

Having played for a side which boasts of aggressiveness, winning mentality and storied pride, watching his team torn apart by a somewhat rampaging Red Devils side seemed a nightmare.

It was, no doubt.

Regardless of the defeat, Lampard can hold on to some positives from the game. In the first place, Chelsea played arguably more cohesive football when compared to their opponent, racking up possession and displaying creativity at every quarter on the pitch. His side could have gone ahead few minutes into the game, had Tammy Abraham’s well-placed shot not hit the woodwork. Emmerson also had a chance to throw the game open but again was unlucky to have hit the woodwork.

Lampard’s major concern now, perhaps, will be how to ensure his side make the most of every attack, especially now that Eden Hazard, their go-to-man is no longer with them. His team’s doggedness till the end, despite the huge defeat is also good for a side trying to prove a point in a season they are largely seen as underdogs.

The new coach also has a lot to do at the back. Kurt Zuma, for all his physicality, lacks the flexibility and composure for a modern day centre-back. His uncalculated tackles will likely cause great danger against a possessive and tactically inclined side such as Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City. With David Luiz offloaded to Arsenal, Lampard faces an uphill task to thinker the best right centre-back pair to challenge for the season.

  1. Big win for Manchester United, but let’s talk about the cracks

It’s difficult branding the performance of a team that defeated Chelsea 4:0 as average or unconvincing. Yet, the victory, however, anyone spins it, should not paper over the cracks in Manchester United’s display on Sunday. The Red Devils victory owe much to luck than tactical genius of the coach or depth of squad. If not for a Chelsea side struggling to maintain balance between defence, midfield and attack, the Red Devils were arguably not at their best. The midfield duo of Paul Pogba and McTominay struggled for relevance for most parts of the game. Granted their attack responded positively, racking up four goals in a rampant display at Old Trafford, Anthony Martial is still way short of the out-and-out striker that would lead the line for the Red Devils, if they are to go far this season.

United would be consoled at the back nonetheless. The arrival of Harry Maguire from Leicester City and Wan-Bissaka from Crystal Palace seemed the ideal cure for their wobbling defence last season. In  Maguire, United have a player with commanding presence at the back and great insight for reading the game. In Wan-Bissaka, they also have a box-to-box right back with great pace and strength. New addition from Swansea, James also flashed glimpse of his potentials with a goal.

The 4:0 scoreline, seemed too huge, a figure, to debate a team’s undoing, yet Ole Gunnar Solskjaer must get to work on his midfield and attack, if he’s aspiring to come out strong at the end of the season.

  1. Guardiola’s gallant army start off title defence strongly

Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City started their EPL title defence on a strong note with a 5-0 victory over West Ham United. With the quality of players at their disposal, Manchester City are looking deadly than ever, pushing to stretch their dominance in England and Europe. City have shown much strength than weakness so far, starting from their Community Shield victory of Liverpool last weekend, and whether they can successfully defend their last season’s records, if not better them, is more likely than not.

Over to you, Pep.

  1. Arsenal learning to win rough, when it matters most

St. James Park has always been a tough turf for visiting away teams. Arsenal’s hard-fought 1-0 victory against a well-structured Newcastle United only buttress that. Pierre-Aubameyang’s goal proved the difference between the two sides and for Arsenal especially, it was a big plus. Other than the goal, the Gunners were anything but formidable. Their perennial defensive woes were again up as they were stretched severally by a physical and aggressive Newcastle forwards It remains to be seen if David Luiz can provide a lasting solution to the problem at Arsenal’s backline. The midfield was hardly impressive too, with Guendouzi frequently loosing possession to the opposition.

With new signings, Arsenal are under pressure to perform and Unai Emery would be glad his  was able to grind out result, even when they weren’t at their best.

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