Lampard defends team selection after Chelsea pegged back

Chelsea
Frank Lampard hoping to sign players in January.

Chelsea boss Frank Lampard defended his team selection against Sheffield United as the Blades fought back to earn a 2-2 draw.

The Blues had to settle for a share of the points at Stamford Bridge but Lampard said his side’s second successive setback at home is nothing to do with the youthful nature of his side.

The setback came just a fortnight after squandering a first-half lead against Leicester.

Tammy Abraham’s first-half double had looked like giving Lampard a first home win in charge, but Callum Robinson’s effort less than a minute after the restart and Kurt Zouma’s 87th-minute own goal handed the Blades a deserved point.

Lampard, who has been forced to turn to youth this season owing to the club’s transfer ban, named the youngest side in the club’s Premier League history, with an average age of 24 years and 158 days.

He handed a first start to 21-year-old Fikayo Tomori and brought on 18-year-old midfielder Billy Gilmour for his first appearance.

They were hoping to make it back-to-back wins after seeing off Norwich at Carrow Road last week, but it wasn’t to be, and Lampard was quizzed after the game over whether it had anything to do with the youthful nature of his side.

“I don’t put that together and I couldn’t care less that we had the youngest team in (Chelsea’s) Premier League history,” he said. “It was a real plus last week. The fact that it is young today, I don’t think it relates at all.

“The lack of concentration caused mistakes for the goals, but you defend as a team as much as attack.

“We concede because we switch off in a game we should be comfortably seeing out at 2-0 up. That’s not disrespecting to Sheffield United, 2-0 is not the end of the story.

“I was clear with the players at half-time that it could 3-0 and be nice or a potential 2-2 on our hands so the disappointing fact is the first goal because that allowed it. We can only look at ourselves as a group.”

Like Lampard said, the average age of the squad would not have been an issue had Chelsea seen the game out which they should have done from a 2-0 half-time advantage.

Abraham scored his second successive brace after capitalising on errors from Dean Henderson for his first goal and John Egan and Jack O’Connell for his second.

It took his tally to four for the season and perhaps put question marks over Gareth Southgate’s decision not to include him in his England squad for next week’s Euro 2020 qualifiers.

But Robinson’s first goal for the Blades 48 seconds after the restart gave Chris Wilder’s men the impetus and Zouma’s own goal, when he turned in Robinson’s inviting cross, earned a deserved point.

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