Chelsea cannot just play well in short bursts, says Lampard
Manager wants top form for the full 90 minutes Only late save prevented Watford snatching draw
For most of Saturday’s match here, the abiding memory looked likely to be of Chelsea attacking in nearirresistible waves while Watford goalkeeper Ben Foster mounted a heroic and almost lone resistance. But in the end, the defining image was Chelsea goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga’s last-second save from Foster’s header to preserve a 2-1 win and three points that should never have been in question.
Fourth place, a fifth successive Premier League victory and a seventh away win on the spin in all competitions confirm that this Chelsea side has almost everything required of a top team: attacking talent, resolute, athletic defenders and the potential to improve. But the last is arguably the most crucial, because as yet the quality they lack is the ability to sustain all their other strengths over 90 minutes.
Frank Lampard, the manager, agrees. “At times we are certainly producing some of the form that I want from us,” he said.
“Our work off the ball in some games where we have been pushed hard, like Ajax away and Liverpool, has really pleased me. They have worked on that in training to a level where they are fit enough. If I’ve got a gripe it is that we are not sustaining that for long enough.”
His explanation? “Maybe it’s football. Look at today. Liverpool go away and are behind for long periods, Man City [too]. So maybe I’m being a bit demanding
“It is not always as easy as it appears, and football will always be a work in progress.”
Cesar Azpilicueta, the captain, felt that the issue on Saturday was the failure to add further goals to those scored by Tammy Abraham and Christian Pulisic. “We were dominant, especially in the first half, and then we went to the opposite side,” he said. “If we were clinging on, it’s our fault. We know, especially in the Premier League, there is nothing taken for granted when you are 2-0 up.”