Mon | Sep 16, 2019

‘Still early for us’ - Lampard calm after Leicester ruin his Chelsea homecoming

Published:Monday | August 19, 2019 | 12:18 AM
Chelsea’s Tammy Abraham (left) and Leicester City’s Caglar Soyuncu battle for the ball during the English Premier League match between their teams at the Stamford Bridge stadium in London yesterday. The match ended in a 1-1 draw.
Chelsea’s Tammy Abraham (left) and Leicester City’s Caglar Soyuncu battle for the ball during the English Premier League match between their teams at the Stamford Bridge stadium in London yesterday. The match ended in a 1-1 draw.

Frank Lampard climbed the steps in the tunnel and emerged to rapturous applause from Chelsea fans, a flame display, and a giant banner at one end of Stamford Bridge that read, “Welcome Home Super Frank.”

“The stuff of dreams,” Lampard said in describing his homecoming yesterday.

He couldn’t mark it with a ­victory, though.

Lampard’s winless run as ­manager of the club, where he is the record scorer and one of their greatest players, extended to three games after Leicester fought back to earn a 1-1 draw in the Premier League.

“It’s very early for us,” Lampard said after his first home match in charge of Chelsea. “We have to be patient as we are working towards something.”

After a 4-0 loss at Manchester United on the opening weekend of the Premier League and then a penalty-shootout defeat to Liverpool on Wednesday, Chelsea couldn’t hold on to the lead given by youngster Mason Mount’s ­seventh-minute goal.

Holding midfielder Wilfred Ndidi was at fault for that goal after being dispossessed by Mount on the edge of Leicester’s area, but he made amends by scoring the equaliser.

James Maddison swung over the corner and Ndidi rose higher than marker Cesar Azpilicueta to plant a firm header into the corner.

Second-half struggle

Chelsea struggled in the second half, perhaps through fatigue, ­having been taken to extra time by Liverpool in the Super Cup, which finished after midnight local time in Turkey.

Leicester wasted a clear chance to take all three points when Maddison weaved past Chelsea’s static defence in the 73rd minute only to blaze over from point-blank range.

“It’s a results business,” Lampard said. “It’s strange because the performance against Manchester United overall made me happier than today, even though it was a 4-0 result. We need both. There were frustrations. If there were frustrations in the crowd, there were frustrations in the team and on the bench.”

While Chelsea have started the season disappointingly under Lampard, Leicester – highly ­fancied to break into the top six under Brendan Rodgers – are also without a win after opening with a 0-0 home draw against Wolverhampton Wanderers.

“The top six is always going to be difficult,” Rodgers said, “but we have got to be aggressive and dominate, whatever arena you are playing in, home or away, and you saw that from my team today.”

Sheffield United are ­comfortably settling back into the Premier League after their return to the top flight after a 12-year absence.

A 1-0 win over Crystal Palace yesterday followed up a 1-1 draw at Bournemouth on the opening weekend. Only Liverpool and Arsenal have more than Sheffield United’s four points from two games.

John Lundstram was the team’s match-winner, the midfielder ­finishing from close range in the 47th minute after Palace goalkeeper Vicente Guaita could only tip away a driven cross into the box.

Palace have yet to score a goal this season, having started with a 0-0 home draw against Everton.