Frank Lampard has denied that we was “bold” to bring on youngster Billy Gilmour in Chelsea’s 2-2 draw with Sheffield United on Saturday.
The 18-year-old came on with eight minutes of normal time remaining, at which point Chelsea were on course to secure all three points. However, Sheffield United went on to equalise late on via a Kurt Zouma own goal.
Did Lampard’s decisions blow Chelsea’s lead? Five things to know…
- A first half brace from Tammy Abraham gave the Blues a comfortable 2-0 lead at half time.
- Blades forward Callum Robinson halved the deficit 48 seconds into the second half.
- The visitors continued to cause Chelsea problems, with Enda Stevens a constant threat from left wing-back.
- On 82 minutes, Lampard brought off Tammy Abraham for Michy Batshuayi, and Mateo Kovacic for youngster Gilmour.
- Increasing pressure from the visitors eventually told, as Zouma turned the ball into his own net at the death.
Involving the Scotland Under-21 midfielder at such a crucial time in the game is further indication of Lampard’s faith in youth, with Fikayo Tomori, Mason Mount and Abraham all starting the game on Saturday.
The Chelsea boss stated that the substitution was motivated by the need to see out the game in the absence of injured midfielders such as Ruben Loftus-Cheek and N’Golo Kante.
“Kovacic was on his haunches and was tired and Billy Gilmour is a midfield player,” Lampard said.
“And Michy [Batshuayi] was to try and bring some energy for Tammy Abraham who was our best player. People can say what they want but I wasn’t trying to be clever at 2-1, I was trying to see the game out.
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“I’ve got faith in Billy – he’s going to have a big future. But we’ve got an injury to N’Golo Kante in midfield who is a fantastic player for us, so Billy is on the bench. We have a ban, so the squad is what the squad is.”
Five points from four games leaves Chelsea ninth in the table, two points adrift of the Champions League places. The big concern for Lampard ahead of the international break will surely be the defensive side of Chelsea’s game.
The Blues have conceded nine goals, including four against newly promoted sides (Norwich and Sheffield United).
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Missing cogs close to a return
“It’s not just the defence – we concede as a team,” was the Chelsea manager’s diagnosis following Saturday’s game.
The Blues have played expansively so far this season, scoring plenty of goals as well as conceding more than they would like. However, Antonio Rudiger has impressed for the development squad and could return to action soon.
Meanwhile, World Cup winner Kante is arguably the most important missing cog given Chelsea’s defensive vulnerabilities. The midfielder won’t travel with France on international duty, meaning Lampard is hopeful he will be fit when club football returns later this month.