The Blues once again struggled with set-pieces as they tasted a humbling 3-2 defeat at West Ham United on Wednesday.
Two set-piece goals were scored by the home team in that game, with one of them controversially ruled out by VAR.
Although many would argue Cesar Azpilicueta (1.78m) was clearly a mismatch for goalscorer Tomas Soucek (1.92m), the fact is that it was the ninth goal Frank Lampard’s men have conceded from corner kicks, and it should raise questions about the chronic problem.
In total, Chelsea have conceded 12 goals from set-pieces this season. That’s the joint fourth-most in the Premier League this season.
And the Chelsea defence in the game was a disaster waiting to happen.
Underwhelming aerial performances from the defenders this season
Apart from Kurt Zouma who had 75% aerial duel win rate in Premier League this season, no other Chelsea defender has been really dominant in the air.
Antonio Rudiger and Andreas Christensen who started against West Ham have had 57% and 59% aerial duel win rate this season, respectively. While the fullbacks; Azpilicueta has had it at 60% and Marcos Alonso with 56% (Whoscored).
The other centre-back at Lampard’s disposal, Fikayo Tomori, has also had a similar rate of 56%.
It suggests whoever Lampard deployed except for Zouma, Chelsea would lose almost half of the aerial battles.
Having a goalkeeper who concedes almost half of the shots on target he faces does not help either.
Statistically, the worst goalkeeper in the Premier League
Kepa Arrizabalaga’s 57% save percentage is the worst among Premier League first-choice goalkeepers (FBref). In 90 minutes against West Ham, the Spanish international faced four shots on target; saved one and conceded three.
Another thing that people have started to see is Kepa’s inability to stop the threats before the ball reaches attackers.
Kepa has faced 201 crosses in the Premier League this season and successfully stopped just 15 (7.5% – FBref). For comparison, in 2017/18, Thibaut Courtois claimed 12.3 percent of the crosses he faced (FBref).
Defenders who lost almost every other headed challenge, a goalkeeper who can’t save and rarely plucks the ball from the air — Chelsea’s poor set-piece defence is not much of a mystery anymore, isn’t it?