Sparkling Noni Madueke display finally offers Chelsea some hope of a brighter future
The winds finally changed here for Frank Lampard. Chelsea’s caretaker manager put an end to an abysmal run of six straight defeats since returning, with victory on the south coast.
Chelsea’s chronic inefficiency in front of goal for once did not rear its head, and a bright display from Noni Madueke boded well for the Englishman’s future at the club.
The winger’s trickery epitomised the way they took risks, and ensured they did not equal a club-record seventh successive defeat as a result.
In dour weather at the Vitality Stadium, Chelsea fared well against a Bournemouth side whose spirited displays in recent weeks have put daylight between themselves and the relegation zone.
Madueke, the Barnet-born 21-year-old signed from PSV in January, was the only attacker to retain his place from the abject 3-1 defeat to Arsenal four days ago, where he had scored his first goal for the club.
The England U21 international did not register a goal or assist on the south coast, but his jinking runs to the byline and into the box had the beating of Bournemouth’s defence, which struggled to contain him.
Lampard’s spell as Chelsea’s permanent manager between July 2019 and January 2021 was notable for the way he invested in the club’s young English players, handing plenty of opportunities to the likes of Fikayo Tomori, Tammy Abraham and Mason Mount.
Here, Lampard will have felt vindicated in keeping faith with Madueke. Vindication can’t be something the Chelsea boss is used to feeling in his so-far woeful secondcoming.
Through Conor Gallagher’s early header, and then late goals by centre-back Benoit Badiashile and substitute Joao Felix, Chelsea were able to taste victory for the first time in 10 matches.
Matias Vina’s first-half equaliser for Bournemouth was a stunning goal that Kepa Arrizabalaga could not keep out. It was to the credit of Chelsea’s pluck, Madueke’s creativity, and – at long last – Lampard’s decision-making that Chelsea finally had something to offer their loyal travelling support.
They finally cross the 40-point mark, having been sat on 39 points for a week shy of two months.
The question is whether it signals a changing of the winds not for Lampard’s caretaker spell but in Todd Boehly’s ownership of the club. No wonder Lampard told his players they could have a drink and enjoy this win; the last few months have been sobering for Chelsea. They must build on this rare afternoon of joy.