There are signs of progress in Chelsea’s defence after holding one of Europe’s best teams scoreless but finding the right balance is the next task
Chelsea’s goalless Champions League draw against Sevilla won’t capture many headlines but manager Frank Lampard will be quietly pleased with the clean sheet following recent chaotic defensive displays. It was the first 0-0 draw of his time in charge of the club.
A 3-3 collapse at home to Southampton in their previous game had put the squad under pressure but the team produced a display that will be encouraging for future prospects at Stamford Bridge.
It wasn’t fluid, it wasn’t pretty and at times the Liga side were on top but the performance can still be seen in a positive light as Lampard searches for identity with a team still bedding in multiple new signings.
Three new defensive signings started; Thiago Silva and Edouard Mendy were back in the team in changes from the weekend alongside the impressive new left-back Ben Chilwell.
Mendy passed a late fitness test after watching Kepa Arrizabalaga continue his struggles on Saturday and the former Rennes keeper put in a dominant display in goal against elite opposition.
Spain international Kepa could now slip even further down the goalkeeping pecking order after the shock inclusion of Champions League winner and club legend Petr Cech in Chelsea’s Premier League squad at the age of 38.
It was mostly a simple night for Mendy apart from a big save from Nemanja Gudelj early on. Silva also dominated at the back after overcoming an injury scare in the warm-up.
Kurt Zouma, however, still looks shaky following a big mistake against the Saints and needed the assurance of those around him to carry him through. His physical presence was useful at set-pieces though, the only area where the Blues looked defensively vulnerable.
Defending is about more than the back four and many of the problems in recent weeks have stemmed from the ineffective nature of the press compared to teams like Liverpool who have mastered the approach.