Kepa’s calami­ties in­ten­sify pres­sure on Lam­pard to solve defensive rid­dle

The Daily Telegraph - Business - - Sport - By Matt Law FOOT­BALL NEWS CORRESPOND­ENT

Chelsea’s eye-catch­ing sum­mer spend will con­tinue this week with the for­mal com­ple­tion of the ar­rival of goal­keeper Edouard Mendy. About time, too, will cry the club’s fans who wit­nessed an­other Kepa Ar­riz­a­bal­aga howler in the de­feat by Liver­pool.

But head coach Frank Lam­pard will know only too well that adding

more than £200mil­lion of new tal­ent to his squad will also mul­ti­ply the scru­tiny put on each and ev­ery de­ci­sion he now makes.

And, now blessed with so many op­tions, Lam­pard is go­ing to up­set an aw­ful lot of his play­ers on a weekly ba­sis. So, he will know that An­dreas Chris­tensen’s red card will have only height­ened An­to­nio RudiBy ger’s be­lief he should have been on duty at Stam­ford Bridge yes­ter­day.

And Rudi­ger will not have been the only per­son won­der­ing how Kepa had kept his place for Chelsea’s open­ing two games, in both of which he has now made an er­ror.

The Spa­niard gift-wrapped Sa­dio Mane’s sec­ond goal and Chelsea’s hope that the ar­rival of Mendy could bring out the best in Kepa looks op­ti­mistic at best.

Whether we are now ap­proach­ing the fi­nal straight of Rudi­ger’s Chelsea ca­reer will soon be­come clear, with the Ger­man in­ter­na­tional due to talk to his agent.

But what is crys­tal clear is that it will take Lam­pard some time to solve the rid­dle that is Chelsea’s de­fence, even with Mendy, Thi­ago Silva and Ben Chilwell to boost his op­tions even fur­ther.

Chris­tensen is not the only cen­tral de­fender to have been caught out by Mane’s pace and he will not be the last, but the Dan­ish in­ter­na­tional’s chal­lenge on the stroke of half-time was clumsy in the ex­treme.

Silva will have had an­other full week of train­ing with his new team­mates by the time Chelsea play again in the Premier League and one would ex­pect the 35-year-old to bring a much-needed sense of calm to Lam­pard’s de­fence. Re­plac­ing the fum­bling hands of Kepa may also cure some of Chelsea’s nerves but, other than find­ing the right mix at the back, Lam­pard now has the added chal­lenge of man­ag­ing a squad of play­ers who will all want to play each week. Rudi­ger is un­likely to put up with ef­fec­tively

be­ing fourth or fifth-choice cen­tre­back, while Fikayo To­mori, who stepped off the bench at half-time yes­ter­day, wants reg­u­lar foot­ball.

Chelsea have de­layed a de­ci­sion on whether To­mori, a tar­get for Ever­ton, can leave on loan and the sit­u­a­tion re­gard­ing Rudi­ger adds ex­tra com­plex­ity to that dilemma.

Lam­pard would have also known only too well that a World Cup-win­ning striker and last sea­son’s top scorer will not have been overly en­am­oured to see Kai Havertz em­ployed as a false nine.

With Lam­pard switch­ing Timo Werner to the left to try to catch out the on­rush­ing Trent Alexan­derArnold, Olivier Giroud and Tammy Abra­ham would have hoped to get the nod through the mid­dle.

But that role went to Havertz, who had com­pleted a quiet de­but at Brighton and who, more per­ti­nently, is not a nat­u­ral striker.

Abra­ham fin­ished last sea­son with 17 goals, while Giroud’s strikes ef­fec­tively sealed the club’s qual­i­fi­ca­tion for the Cham­pi­ons League.

Giroud will have con­fi­dence he can force his way in from the bench, but an 11-minute cameo ap­pear­ance, dur­ing which he al­most scored, is un­likely to have ap­peased Abra­ham. Cal­lum Hudson-Odoi will also be wor­ried that he is yet to start ei­ther of Chelsea’s open­ing games at a time when both Chris­tian Pulisic and Hakim Ziyech are in­jured.

Lam­pard needs time to blend his new squad and he may well have to put out a few fires along the way.

Headache: Frank Lam­pard must deal with frus­trated play­ers

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