Frank Lampard deserves credit as Chelsea wise up to Jose Mourinho and Tottenham trap

James Robson
·4-min read
 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

When it was put to Frank Lampard this week that he is a very attack-minded manager, he preferred to describe his Chelsea team as balanced.

And there is perhaps no better way to sum up the man.

It is credit to him that even in these circumstances, he was capable of keeping his emotions intact and avoiding the temptation to walk into the trap set by Jose Mourinho.

That was always the danger when coming up against the man who had such an influence on his own playing career – and in Lampard’s own words, turned Chelsea into winners.

Especially on a day when Roman Abramovich marked his 1000th game of ownership top spot was up for grabs.

Lampard will have known the significance of beating Mourinho and sending Chelsea to the summit of the Premier League.

It would have strengthened the growing feeling that they are real title contenders – and that their novice manager can compete with the big beasts of the game like Mourinho, Pep Guardiola and Jurgen Klopp.

A goalless draw felt anti-climactic, given the anticipation of the occasion – but, in its own way, provided evidence of Chelsea’s credentials this season, with Lampard recognising the value of a point and potential psychological impact of defeat.

In truth, they created enough to take all three points.

For all that Lampard has learned from Mourinho, he is by no means a carbon copy of his one-time mentor.

Tottenham Hotspur FC via Getty I
Tottenham Hotspur FC via Getty I

While Mourinho was happy to sit deep and take a point, it was always Chelsea who displayed the ambition to win. Just not so much that it put them in danger of defeat.

Tammy Abraham failed to make the most of three second half chances.

Hakim Ziyech blasted over when in a good position and Olivier Giroud blew a golden opportunity to be a last gasp hero for the second time this week with only Hugo Lloris to beat.

Add to that Mason Mount’s long-ranger that forced an outstretched save from the Spurs goalkeeper and there was little argument about which team dominated after the break.

Crucially, Lampard was conscious of the threat posed by Mourinho – and picked up a point against a title rival to preserve an unbeaten record that dates back to September.

Lampard had studied Spurs’ win against Manchester City the previous week and spoken beforehand of the threat of Harry Kane and Heung-min Son on the break. Still he had enough trust in Chelsea’s match-winning powers to stick to a system that system that has served him so well this season and with enough attacking talents to open up such a well-drilled defence.

These are the sort of games in which Lampard will be most scrutinised – up against managers who have won the biggest prizes.

That was perhaps evident in that fact that he chose to spend time on the pitch with his players during the pre-match warm-up – just assessing his team and the occasion.

It was always a game where concentration would be paramount – both for Spurs in terms of keeping their shape when ceding possession and Chelsea to the danger of the counter.

It led to a first half that was all too polite, with both teams too respectful of the dangers of their opponents.

Getty Images
Getty Images

Tottenham defended deep and invited Chelsea to take a chance.

Chelsea, meanwhile, were lacking in ideas and adventure – all too often looking to go long when faced with the Spurs wall, or passing without penetration.

Serge Aurier’s long-ranger was pushed away by Edouard Mendy, while Timo Werner had the ball in the net, only to see it ruled out for offside – but other than that it was a tactical stalemate.

It was credit to Lampard that he recognised as much at the interval and tactically tweaked it for the second half.

Ziyech tucked in to give Reece James more space on the right and suddenly Chelsea had more of a threat.

But Abraham was guilty of failing to make the most of good deliveries that had been missing from the first half, while Ziyech wasted another chance.

Mount’s low effort from the edge of the box looked set for the bottom corner – but Lloris was down sharply to push it wide.

Lampard made attacking substitutions as he went in search of the breakthrough, with Christian Pulisic, Giroud and Kai Havertz all thrown into the action.

And after his late, late show against Rennes in midweek, it was Giroud who had the chance to settle this one – but got his chip all wrong from inside the box.

It summed up an underwhelming game, but it is a point that could prove telling for both sides later on down the line.

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