Ben Chilwell shines in victory over Crystal Palace

Chelsea’s convincing 4-0 victory over Crystal Palace was crucial for Frank Lampard. The Carabao Cup exit to Tottenham, along with a stuttering start in the league, saw people in some circles begin to question Lampard, even at such an early stage.

Defensively, Thiago Silva brought a sense of calm and authority to a defence which has often been all-at-sea while Edouard Mendy’s Premier League debut could not have been more comfortable. The main positive for Lampard, however, was the contribution of £50m left-back, Ben Chilwell.

Chelsea have struggled in the left-back position since the departure of Ashley Cole. While Cesar Azpilicueta filled in exceptionally during the 2014/15 title-winning campaign, he was never a natural left-back.

Players such as Filipe Luis and Baba Rahman were signed but failed to fill the void. Marcos Alonso is more comfortable as a wing-back, while Emerson has failed to impress. Chilwell’s signing, therefore, was a major coup for Lampard’s men. After two Carabao Cup appearances, he made his Premier League bow against Crystal Palace. Here’s how he fared.

Goal and assist

Chilwell managed to register a goal and an assist on his Premier League bow for the Blues. His goal, a no-nonsense finish following a ricochet in the area, broke the deadlock in what looked another awkward outing.

The assist for Kurt Zouma’s goal, and Chelsea’s second, was an excellent indicator of what Chilwell can bring to the table. His pinpoint cross was met by Zouma who headed home emphatically. This was one of three key passes that the former Leicester man-made throughout the game.

Chilwell’s constant bursts down the left were a critical feature of Chelsea’s attacking play. In the second half, he was found more and more frequently after a first-half of frustration. 110 touches attest to Chilwell’s huge influence on the game.

Comparison

Lampard targeted Chilwell having been unhappy with his two left-backs, Emerson and Marcos Alonso.

Chilwell registered more assists (3) than Alonso (2) and Emerson (0) during 2019/20 while being far more influential to Leicester’s overall attacking unit than the Chelsea men. An average of 61 passes per game is at least 10 more than Alonso and Emerson managed, even in a less possession-based side.

The 23-year-old, capped 11 times by England, has terrific stamina and speed, which enables him to complete both offensive and defensive duties. Chilwell completed more tackles per game (1.6) and made more clearances (2) per game than both Emerson and Alonso last season.

Alonso and Emerson both seemed far more interested in offensive duties than their defensive ones. The Spaniard, in particular, is noted for his lack of recovery speed.

Lampard’s public lambasting of Alonso after the 3-3 draw at West Brom was an indicator of losing patience. Emerson is clearly out of favour, not featuring in any of Chelsea’s four league games so far.

For Chilwell, it was vital that he made a good start to his Chelsea career. With a large transfer fee and Chelsea’s clear left-back woes, a heavy burden is on the Englishman to make the position his own. In the victory over Crystal Palace, Chilwell made a fine start to filling that burden.

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