Chelsea have not won a single point from losing positions this season, do Lampard's excuses stack up?

After the disappointing run that Chelsea have had, it’s only natural that fingers will be pointed in various directions. There is a search on for scapegoats because the Blues have now lost five of their last seven Premier League matches.

That sequence means a nightmare both before and after Christmas with the latest upset being Southampton’s deserved 2-0 win at Stamford Bridge. It has left Frank Lampard and others scrambling to explain what went wrong after similar defeats to West Ham and Bournemouth.

“It was the same story [as those games],” said the manager, with his side’s incredible 2-0 win away at Tottenham days earlier feeling like a distant memory.

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Despite the loss, Lampard has so far remained relatively unscathed and, to an extent, rightly so. Chelsea have been in the Premier League top four since October 19 and have qualified for the last 16 of the Champions League despite a transfer ban having been imposed on the club in the summer.

However, this poor run has snapped the Blues back down into reality. It has been a really dismal month. Chelsea are well and truly in a rat race for a European spot, though they remain the leaders of a pack featuring Wolves, Tottenham, Sheffield United, Manchester United and upcoming opponents Arsenal.

Spurs, United and Arsenal have all faced heavy criticism this season and two of the three have sacked managers. This is in stark contrast to Chelsea, who are in a period of stability, with support largely behind Lampard after a mutinous atmosphere around their previous coach Maurizio Sarri.

But Lampard might well be heading towards that tipping point where perceptions begin to change. Chelsea have struggled to find answers to teams simply sitting deep, inviting pressure and hitting on the break.

They also are unable to come back from hardship having not claimed a single point from a losing position in the league this season. The Blues are far from an easy watch at Stamford Bridge and barely looked like scoring after going 1-0 down against Ralph Hasenhuttl’s men on Boxing Day.

Lampard’s talent as a manager was shown in a coming-of-age victory away at Jose Mourinho’s Tottenham but this is a new challenge. He has got to create a formula to stop teams blocking Chelsea’s tactical plans. There is no simple one tweak that Lampard can make to turn fortunes around.

Lampard has been tactically versatile this season and he used his 3-4-3 system at Spurs rather than the 4-2-3-1 system which has failed in recent weeks. Unfortunately, the same problems emerge whether there are two or three centre backs and, rightly, Lampard quipped “it is not just about systems.”

Chelsea averaged over 66 per cent possession in their three poor home defeats and are matching their shots on target stats in home games and away games, 58 in 10 home games and 54 in nine away games.

So on paper, the Blues should be doing better. However, to find the answers you have to look beyond the statistics.

Simply put, Chelsea are not taking risks. That’s whether they are in possession, taking that chance to dribble or gambling with a long-range shot. They are not winning the ball high enough up the pitch. They don’t win their flick-ons with enough regularity. The end result is they are predictable in attack.

“Players have to go one-v-one if you’re an offensive player,” Lampard said. “Play around the corner, join in, mix up your game and break defensive lines because teams aren’t stupid, they are well organised and you need to do more in an attacking sense.

“You can’t have near on 70 per cent of possession and control – particularly the first half – and not do more. Not hit better crosses, not hit better final passes, not get more clear chances at goal from our point of view.”

These are the assets that allow teams like champions-elect Liverpool to break down opposition in a low block. Chelsea are failing to do it, which creates a particularly anxious atmosphere at home.

Lampard himself was a match-winner as a player, something that his side has come to lack. Tammy Abraham is a goalscorer but teams are able to nullify him tactically, while his team-mates are struggling to do damage when he doesn’t provide.

The scapegoating of players like Callum Hudson-Odoi that has consumed the debate recently is harsh. Similar problems finishing teams off were present in Antonio Conte’s second season and under Sarri last year.

But also, Lampard should also have a look at himself over his side’s lack of comebacks when he has the power to make game-changing substitutions.

“We have to be brutal with ourselves as well,” Lampard concluded upon delivering his media duties after the recent Saints disappointment. “It is all well and good feeling on top of the world after beating Tottenham but we need to reproduce it in different ways against different opposition in different games.”

Tottenham edged their way past Brighton on Boxing Day as Chelsea’s inconsistency took the edge off an emotional London derby win. It was a reminder that three points is all that matters and bubbles quickly burst even after big wins.

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