Chelsea held by Sevilla but Frank Lampard handed unexpected boost in clean sheet before Manchester United trip

Chelsea 0-0 Sevilla: Edouard Mendy helped settle a Blues back line after leaking three goals against Saints

Miguel Delaney
Chief Football Writer
Tuesday 20 October 2020 22:22 BST
Werner battles for the ball
Werner battles for the ball (POOL/AFP)

After all the chaos of this season so far, and particularly any game involving Chelsea, they offer up something else unexpected: a first 0-0 draw of Frank Lampard’s time as manager.

It’s not the ideal start to a Champions League campaign, but it’s not a bad one - particularly against an accomplished European side like Sevilla - and maybe actually what is necessary after so much defensive mayhem.

Lampard has a rare clean sheet, and something to build on defensively.

Except, that was also one of the angles this game threw up. Lampard still has to find a balance in this side.

As has been something of a trend in that time, it is as if his side struggles to attack when he looks to tighten up, but then struggle to defend when they anyway loosen out.

Ocampos and James battle for the ball
Ocampos and James battle for the ball (Getty)

He won’t, at least, be facing any questions about a porous defence again after Saturday’s raucous 3-3 against Southampton.

Chelsea started with a cautiousness, and that was clearly linked to that game. There were long stretches in the first half when Sevilla had them penned in their own half, making it difficult for Lampard’s side to break out.

One advantage for Chelsea was that Sevilla, for all their sharpness, struggled to do much with that. The best they offered were efforts from set-pieces, one a Nemanja Gudelj header, another a Luis Ocampos volley.

Another advantage for Chelsea was that they had Edouard Mendy in goal. He held that Ocampos volley in an assured way you wouldn’t necessarily expect from Kepa Arrizabalaga right now.

It should be acknowledged that Chelsea themselves looked sturdier. The defence was staying strong, N’Golo Kante was back winning everything in the middle, Jorginho made the most tactical of tactical fouls by taking one attack out.

This was undeniably a positive for Lampard, but it also took some of the positive impetus out of their play.

This highlighted that one major issue he still has to solve in this team, that feels like it will be central to the wider debates over Lampard.

When he fully goes with it in attack, Chelsea are so susceptible in defence.

When he goes a bit more controlled, though, it is as if it removes all verve from their attack. It is a balance he has yet to strike.

So it was that Lampard got Chelsea playing much higher in the second half, and Sevilla started to find so much more space.

Mendy returned from injury for Chelsea
Mendy returned from injury for Chelsea (POOL/AFP)

A dull game began to really liven up, and go from end to end.

Chelsea’s best chances meanwhile came from one of their defenders going up the other end, as Kurt Zouma twice should have scored from what were really free headers from corners.

For the first, after he had towered over the Sevilla defence so forcefully, a meek header ended up falling straight into Yassine Bounou’s hands.

For the second, he got a lot more power on it, but less precision. It sailed wide.

Sevilla substitute Joan Jordan went much closer with what was almost a spectacular volley, swerving the ball just over Mendy’s goal from a standing position from the edge of the box from Ivan Rakitic’s corner.

Werner battles for the ball
Werner battles for the ball (POOL/AFP)

That was about it as far as big chances went, to make for a fairly quiet game - if you could say that given the loudness of Julen Lopetegui throughout

The 90 minutes were soundtracked by his constant shouts, usually telling his defence to “get out”.

Lampard meanwhile doesn’t have to say too much to his own backline for once, or about them.

He hasn’t got a first win in the Champions League groups this season, but a first 0-0 may oddly be more valuable.

They go to Old Trafford on Saturday, with that game suddenly enveloped by a very different atmosphere.

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