Chelsea collapsed to yet another defeat, with Leicester City’s 2-0 win at the King Power sending them to the top of the table.
After beating Fulham at the weekend, Frank Lampard will have been hoping for his side to start putting together a run of results.
But just six minutes in, they fell behind when Wilfred Ndidi fired home from distance.
The Blues grew into the game and thought they had a penalty when Jonny Evans brought down Christian Pulisic.
After VAR review it was adjudged to be outside the box and Chelsea ’s misery was compounded when James Maddison went up the other end to make it two just moments later.
Chelsea had much of the ball in the second half, but failed to reduce the deficit as the pressure continues to mount on under-fire Lampard.
Here are the game’s big talking points.
Chelsea have struggled for consistency under Lampard this season, but one thing they have done with unerring regularity is concede on the road.
The goals shipped at the King Power saw their tally reach a half century under his stewardship.
Leicester ’s first goal came from a team unwilling to press and attack a second ball, but their defensive issues are much more deep-rooted than that.
Thiago Silva and Antonio Rudiger looked a very inexperienced pairing and the defending for the Foxes’ second was downright embarrassing.
Their generosity away from Stamford Bridge is constantly hamstringing them and gave them another mountain to climb in the Midlands.
Despite spending more than £200million in the summer, it is believed that Lampard was still left disappointed in not landing Declan Rice.
The West Ham skipper has been heavily linked with the club that released him as a teenager, with speculation about another bid this month.
On this evidence, it’s a transfer that desperately needs to happen, particularly in the absence of N’Golo Kante.
Chelsea lacked any leadership or bite in midfield, perfectly evidenced by the lackadaisical approach to closing Ndidi on the edge of the box as he made it 1-0.
Rice seems almost tailor-made for this role, but with the Hammers winning again, his current side sit above the team looking to sign him.
Lampard’s telling Werner choice
It was perhaps telling that on a night where Lampard desperately needed a result, Timo Werner was left out of the starting XI.
It’s the third time in four games that the German international has started from the bench, with a front three of Tammy Abraham, Christian Pulisic and Callum Hudson-Odoi preferred.
Lampard has consistently pleaded for patience with the 24-year-old, but after such a prolific spell in the Bundesliga, his lack of output with his new club is becoming a major worry.
After coming on in the second half he did look full of energy and was inches away from breaking his drought. It must be time for him to sink or swim.
A word for the Foxes
Leicester City are top of the Premier League…now where have we heard that before?
Make no mistake, Brendan Rodgers’ team are in no false position halfway through the season and looked much the better team for large swathes of the evening against Chelsea.
A quick look at their team sheet and their lofty league position should come as no surprise. Kasper Schmeichel is consistently one of the division’s best keepers, while Jonny Evans and Wesly Fofana have built a miserly defensive partnership.
In midfield, Youri Tielemans and James Maddison are playing at a ridiculously high level, while the likes of Harvey Barnes and Jamie Vardy provide a constant threat on the counter.
There is an argument that on paper, man for man, this team is better than the one that stunned the world under Claudio Ranieri.
Repeating that feat is still a very long shot, but this is a team that has firmly disrupted the top-four picture in the Premier League.
Where now for Frank?
While the hosts moved to the Premier League summit, Chelsea’s own title hopes took yet another dent. It’s now just seven points picked up from a possible 24 since beating Leeds at the start of December.
With West Ham’s win in the early kick off, Lampard’s side had already dropped to 8th and rarely looked like moving back above their London rivals.
Southampton and Aston Villa both have games in hand on the Blues, meaning they could be as low as 10th by the time the league makes way for the FA Cup.
Roman Abramovich will be desperate for it to work for one of the club’s biggest legends in their history. But the pressure continues to mount on Lampard after yet another no-show against one of their supposed top-six rivals.
The fact that the condensed nature of the league table means they are somehow only nine points behind the Foxes, could act as a saving grace.
But the groans will continue, while the speculation will only become more intense. There’s a feeling that Lampard needs to find a solution…and fast.
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