After Thiago Silva’s Steven Gerrard impression came Frank Lampard’s version of Istanbul. Chelsea came from 3-0 down at half-time to secure an improbable draw at the Hawthorns. Perhaps they did it in a manner that reflected Lampard’s reign. All three goals came from homegrown youngsters, in Mason Mount, Callum Hudson-Odoi and Tammy Abraham. Lampard’s faith in youth was his salvation once more.
Yet the West Bromwich Albion strikes that preceded the comeback also offered a microcosm of a tenure. Not for the first time, there was no case for Lampard’s defence. By the end, Chelsea barely had one. Thiago had been substituted and they fielded three strikers, two No 10s and a winger. That combination worked when Mount’s low shot was parried by Sam Johnstone and Abraham had an injury-time tap-in, but it is not a sustainable formula.
It was required because of a wretched first half. It showed Chelsea’s problems are of both personnel and structure. They could lament the inclusion of one defensive recruit, as Silva gifted Callum Robinson his second goal, and the exclusion of two more. Lampard’s caution with Edouard Mendy and Ben Chilwell was understandable, with the goalkeeper only just joining and the left-back only just fit again, but in their absence Willy Caballero conceded to the first three shots on target and Marcos Alonso was culpable for both Robinson’s opener and Kyle Bartley’s goal.
At that stage, Albion were on course for a first top-flight win since 2018. A team who seemed to need a new striker, and who are pursuing Huddersfield’s Karlan Grant, had a cutting edge: Robinson has only scored three Premier League goals but they have all come against Chelsea.
The perennial understudy Caballero’s first duty was to retrieve the ball from the back of his net after Alonso misjudged a header, Matheus Pereira fed Robinson and the Republic of Ireland international drilled Albion ahead. His second was a disaster for Thiago. Given the captaincy on his Premier League bow, the 36-year-old let Mateo Kovacic’s pass slip under his boot. Robinson read it and raced away to score. There were echoes of Gerrard at Anfield six years ago.
There were echoes of more recent Chelsea defending when they conceded from a corner. Darnell Furlong was allowed to head it on and Bartley, who Alonso had been marking, was left unchecked to supply the assured finish at the far post.
And yet Chelsea have a wealth of attacking talent. Abraham had missed a glorious chance at 1-0 and it was instructive he led the line while Timo Werner began on the left; the German struck the bar with a volley from Mount’s cross.
And Mount was the catalyst for the comeback. Moved infield when Lampard hauled off Kovacic and Alonso, he reduced the deficit by arrowing a shot in from long range as Johnstone stood and watched it fly past him.
Hudson-Odoi might not have been involved at all had Christian Pulisic and Hakim Ziyech been fit but came off the bench to strike, exchanging passes with Kai Havertz before scoring just his second Premier League goal. Then came Abraham’s finish. An unlikely draw for Chelsea but even with three goals, they dropped two points.