TAMMY ABRAHAM’S late, late equaliser saved Chelsea from defeat but not from another inquest about their defending.
Frank Lampard’s gung-ho second half tactics and substitutions ultimately rescued a point.
He and Chelsea deserved something for their bravery and endeavour, although it felt harsh on West Brom to be pegged back at the death.
But stronger side than the Baggies will not allow spectacular comebacks like this.
Thiago Silva? Thiagone Silva, more like.
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Of course it’s unfair to judge 36-year-old Brazilian on one performance.
But that’s what Lampard had done. After a 60-minute debut in the 6-0 romp over Barnsley, Silva was deemed ready not only to start but also to be captain.
It doesn’t say much for the number of leaders in the Chelsea dressing room and he duly led them to a calamitous first-half deficit from which they recovered by the skin of their teeth.
The experienced centre half that clubs were queuing up to sign had a nightmare debut and the main beneficiary was a player that Sheffield United were happy enough to lose.
Callum Robinson moved to the Hawthorns as part of a swap deal with Oliver Burke and most think the Blades will have the better of the deal.
But he is Chelsea’s bogeyman. Robinson’s only previous Premier League goal came against the Blues last season.
He grabbed two more, the second gifted to him by Silva’s error, as the brilliant Baggies blitzed the Blues by going 3-0 up inside 27 minutes.
Lampard had dumped calamity ‘keeper Kepa Arrizabalaga but there was nothing stand-in Willy Caballero could do when left exposed by his defence.
And you also have to wonder what happens on the Cobham training ground. Under a manager who was a prolific goalscorer as a player, Chelsea have kept only one clean sheet away from home in the Premier League.
It’s early days, of course. Silva and the Blues, with their £220m of new recruits, may well come good. But if that doesn’t happen soon, then the pressure on even a club legend like Lampard will grow quickly. Just ask Roberto Di Matteo.
For their part, West Brom narrowly failed to emerge with a first win of the season from a proverbial game of two halves.
It’s going to be a long hard season for the Baggies. And certainly not as easy as Chelsea made life for them in the extraordinary opening to this game.
Lampard had explained that despite Silva’s lack of English, the Brazilian’s sheer presence had an effect on his team-mates.
Not in the opening four minutes, it didn’t.
Marcos Alonso’s poor header was seized upon by Matheus Pereira, who fed Robinson. He still had plenty to do, but the Chelsea defence backed off and let him do it and his left-footed shot across Caballero nestled perfectly in the side netting.
Alonso’s ineptitude soon continued with a yellow card for pulling back Semi Ajayi. Ben Chilwell, cannot be fully fit again after his heel injury soon enough.
So much for Lampard’s ongoing challenges at the back.
The six goals in midweek suggested a new-look attack was finding its groove. But Tammy Abraham and Timo Werner were guilty of fluffing fine chances in quick succession.
They were soon punished, and how.
First, Silva showed a decidedly un-Brazilian lack of technique as he miscontrolled Alonso’s pass and Robinson gleefully ran through to strike his second past Caballero.
Then Chelsea’s familiar frailty at set-pieces was exposed by a brilliantly-worked corner. Pereira’s delivery found Darnell Furlong, whose header was sidefooted home first time by Kyle Bartley.
Chelsea were shellshocked. £62m forward Kai Havertz was reduced to kicking Grady Diangana in the air and was lucky to avoid a yellow card.
Abraham skied another decent half-chance before Lampard’s team trudged off at the end of a desperate 45 minutes.
Lampard made two changes at the break, removing red-card-waiting-to-happen Alonso and the curiously out-of-sorts Mateo Kovacic. On came Hudson-Odoi and club captain Cesar Azpilicueta, who took the armband from Silva..
The formation became a very attacking 4-3-3, with N’Golo Kante the only defence-minded player in the front six. But needs must.
The match soon became a glorified training exercise, with West Brom pinned in their own half.
But the Baggies were defending well until Mount pulled one back.
The England midfielder’s shot from distance looked speculative, but home goalkeeper Sam Johnstone, perhaps unsighted, didn’t even move to try to keep it out of the net.
If that was a mistake – and it probably was – Johnstone soon redeemed himself slightly by stopping Havertz’s deflected effort.
But he was helpless when Hudson-Odoi played a one-two with Havertz and finished coolly to make it 3-2.
Silva’s evening ended in the 73rd minute as the tension mounted.
The tension was building and Bilic told Lampard’s assistant Jody Morris to “shut up” in a touchline row.
Werner’s late shot was deflected over the bar but when Johnstone could only push out a Mount effort, Abraham was there to snatch a point.
A Silva lining on a cloudy day for Chelsea’s defence and its latest recruit. Good luck, Edouard Mendy!
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