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Gary Neville was left baffled by Frank Lampard’s reluctance to introduce Olivier Giroud as a second-half substitute against Arsenal last night.
Lampard’s side squandered an opportunity to move into second place in the Premier League and inflict more woe on the struggling Gunners who had failed to win in seven matches.
Chelsea, however, were blown away by Mikel Arteta’s vibrant young side and had little answer to the relentless pressing on teenage trio Gabriel Martinelli, Emile Smith Rowe and Bukayo Saka.
The visitors, who had also suffered damaging defeats at Wolves and Everton in recent weeks, only began to grow into the game and assert any semblance of pressure when they were 3-0 behind and began hurling crosses into the box.
Lampard had attempted to reinvigorate his side at the break by bringing on Callum Hudson-Odoi and Jorginho in place of Mateo Kovacic and the hapless Timo Werner, but the changes failed to yield the desired effect.
In total, Chelsea fired 26 crosses into the penalty area but only one, from Hudson-Odoi, created an opportunity that produced an effort on target which ended up with Tammy Abraham’s late consolation.
Given their tactics, Neville was puzzled by the in-form Giroud’s omission and even suggested Lampard should have fielded Thiago Silva as an auxiliary forward in the closing stages.
‘I joked that he (Thiago Silva) may have to stay up in open play for the crosses and he has done,’ Neville said in his role as co-commentator for Sky Sports.
‘It’s why I was surprised Giroud didn’t enter the fray 20 minutes ago because they have been dangerous when they put it in the box from this (the right-hand side).’
Lampard, meanwhile, was livid with his team after the match and admitted he would ring the changes for the visit of Aston Villa to Stamford Bridge next week.
He said: ‘The message was clear: this is a dangerous game for us, talented team, back against the wall, London derby. We were in a good position where we could go second, and they’re in a position where they’re maybe looking downwards.
‘That’s a dangerous combination, the players knew that, we prepared for the game. But if you go out and play at 60% or 70%, or a few players play at that level, you’re not going to win any Premier League game.
‘I’m angry because I want us to win games and today was an opportunity to go second at a place where they’re having a tough time, and we know how that goes.’