Set-pieces were one of Chelsea’s downfalls last season but six goals in eight games makes them the league’s dead-ball specialists as Frank Lampard’s men begin to box clever
- Chelsea have worked hard to solve the set-piece issues they had last season
- Their 4-1 win over Sheffield showed how far Frank Lampard’s men have come
- They added two to their list of six set-piece goals this season, a league high
Away from the flashing cameras and drying ink, Frank Lampard and his staff eyed another path to victory. As Marina Granovskaia oversaw £220million of summer surgery to Chelsea’s squad, they burrowed for more agricultural gains.
‘Last year we weren’t happy that we conceded too many goals from set-pieces,’ Lampard explained after the 4-1 win over Sheffield United. ‘We looked at it over the off-season.’
When the count finally stopped it didn’t make for pretty reading: during Lampard’s first term, Chelsea shipped 15 Premier League goals from dead-ball situations. Only three teams had a worse record, all of whom finished in the bottom four. Liverpool and Manchester City, meanwhile, conceded around half that number. At the other end, the top two led the way with 17 set-piece goals each. Chelsea managed just 11.
Chelsea scored two more goals from set-pieces against Sheffield United on Saturday
Their six dead-ball goals is a league-high and a far-cry from last season’s troubles they had
Saturday’s win at Stamford Bridge was the latest evidence of how far they have come — and how much room for improvement remains.
Sheffield United’s opener came courtesy of a well-worked corner routine as Chelsea switched off and conceded their third set-piece goal of the season. But their fightback was built on their own threat from dead balls. Following Tammy Abraham’s scuffed equaliser, Ben Chilwell made it 2-1 when he deflected home Hakim Ziyech’s whipped ball. Then, before Timo Werner added a late fourth, Thiago Silva gave Chelsea breathing space with his first Chelsea goal — a header from Ziyech’s free-kick.
‘I’m very happy with the set-piece goals,’ Lampard said. ‘Today shows how important they are because they make the game comfortable when — even though we’ve played well — it could have been (different).’
Chelsea now have six set-piece goals in eight games — no one has more — and Silva is their 14th scorer this season.
‘To have that many scorers gives us a different dimension to our game and teams definitely fear us more,’ said Mason Mount. ‘We need that threat from set-pieces which I don’t think we really had last season.’
Ben Chilwell got on the end of Hakim Ziyech’s superb cross to put Chelsea 2-1 up on the night
Frank Lampard has worked hard to address Chelsea’s set-piece problems from last season
Signing Ziyech has helped. The Morocco winger created two goals and six chances against Sheffield United, the best return of any player in a Premier League game this season.
His left foot gives Chelsea a new weapon. So does the brilliance of Werner in front of goal. But their work on dead balls is similarly crucial.
‘We are bigger and more aggressive naturally, through the personnel that have been in the team in the early part of the season,’ Lampard said. Giants like Silva and Edouard Mendy have brought more than size to this side, of course. In the six games the new goalkeeper and centre back have started together, Chelsea have conceded only once.
‘The lads have shown focus in training and we’re spending enough time on (set pieces),’ Lampard said. ‘But the players have to act on that and there’s a nice mentality about trying to be as good as they can be.’
The arrival of Ziyech this season has helped the Blue’s threat with his excellent delivery
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