In Frank Lampard’s first fixture on English soil, the lineups were as fluid as the formations. From a 4-2-3-1 start featuring Pulisic and Kenedy playing wide, to an entirely new field starting the second half and moving into a 4-4-2 diamond midfield. The skipper’s tooling will soon to come to an end as the fixture with Manchester United looms, as will the players last hopes of impressing the manager for a coveted starting spot.
Chelsea came out incredibly slow, giving up a goal in only the 13th minute after some sloppy defending and a deflected first attempt left Josh Barrett a neat chip over Willy Caballero to put the Royals ahead. Nine minutes later, Ross Barkley rocketed a free kick just outside the box to even the match and light a proverbial fire under the visiting team.
A second goal by Kenedy sent the Blues into the locker room with a 2-1 lead.
Second verse, same as the first
While a whole new outfield stepped on the field to start the second half, it seemed as though the Blues took another 15 minutes to get warmed up.
They conceded yet another just 5 minutes in as an undefended Sean Morrison walked in a header delivered by Charlie Adam. Once again as if waking from a slumber, the Blues shifted gears and opened up the field nicely, showing some impressive offensive connecting and attacking prowess.
Mason Mount took advantage of two defensive mistakes just 3 minutes apart (57’ and 60’) to give the blues a 4-2 lead and some breathing room. In the 70th, almost as if on que, Reading’s Olise threaded a ball through the fractured back line of Chelsea to an advancing Baldock who finished neatly.
While Lampard’s experimentation with both lineups and formations is to be expected as he takes the reigns, there is some serious concern regarding the Blues backline.
The current transfer ban leaves Lampard unable to bolster his defensive line, and there are plenty of reinforcements that need to be made before taking the pitch against EPL and Champions League opponents. The good news is that offensively there looks to be some great cohesion in the younger players. While Pulisic and Kenedy started in support of Olivier Giroud today, who seemed mostly absent, there seemed to be better cohesion with Tammy Abraham at the tip of the spear.
Next up for the Blues is a trip to Austria to face RB Salzburg this Wednesday.
Chelsea Player Ratings
Player ratings with 1 being the lowest and 10 being the best.
Starting XI: Caballero (5); Alonso (5), Tomori (6), Christensen (6), Zappacosta (5); Bakayoko (5), Drinkwater (6), Kenedy (7), Barkley (8), Pulisic (7); Giroud (5)
Substitutes: Emerson (6), Zouma (5), Luiz (5), Jorginho (6), Kovacic (6), Mount (8.5), Pedro (6), Abraham (7), Batshuayi (6), Cumming (6)
Match Day Statistics
Reading 31% Chelsea 69%
Reading 13% Chelsea 19%
• SHOTS ON TARGET
Reading 6 Chelsea 7
Reading 5 Chelsea 10
Reading 8 Chelsea 14
Reading 2 Chelsea 1