Chelsea threw away a two-goal lead to draw 2-2 with newly promoted Sheffield United on Saturday, leaving Frank Lampard still looking for his first home win as manager of the Blues, and for ways to stop leaking goals.
Chelsea striker Tammy Abraham got his name on the score-sheet at Stamford Bridge for the first time with two first-half goals to the delight of the home fans who hope he will be the answer to Chelsea’s long wait for a reliable centre forward.
Abraham, one of several players from Chelsea’s youth academy given their chance by Lampard, slotted home in the 19th minute when Sheffield keeper Dean Henderson failed to gather the ball under pressure from Christian Pulisic.
Abraham doubled Chelsea’s lead in the 43rd minute when he capitalised on a defensive mix-up, seemingly putting the Blues on course for a second win of the season.
But the visitors, back in the Premier League for the first time since 2007, struck back immediately after half-time when defender Enda Stevens stormed down the wing and swung in a cross that Callum Robinson converted with a glanced shot.
Chelsea, who conceded two equalisers away to Norwich City last weekend before eventually winning 3-2, looked increasingly nervous and the Blades could have equalised before Chelsea defender Kurt Zouma scored an own goal from a Robinson cross in the 89th minute.
Chelsea also failed to hold on to a lead in a 1-1 draw against Leicester City in their first home game of the season and Lampard is likely to turn to central defender Toni Rudiger who is close to recovering full fitness after an injury.
But Lampard, Chelsea’s all-time top scorer as a player, refused to blame his backline, saying the team as a whole lacked concentration.
“I am confident and trust completely the four centre backs we have,” Lampard said. “We are just in a moment now where we obviously need to stop conceding goals.”
Lampard gave a chance to two other players who emerged from Chelsea’s youth programme, with Fikayo Tomori starting for the first time in the centre of defence and 18 year-old midfielder Billy Gilmour coming on for his debut as a substitute.
But Chelsea clearly missed influential France midfielder N’Golo Kante who was out for a second match due to injury.
Sheffield United manager Chris Wilder praised his players, many of whom are newcomers to the top flight of English football, for not being overawed by the visit to Stamford Bridge.
“Three years ago we were bottom of League One and we now plying our trade and going toe-to-toe in the Premier League,” he said.
“The players need to believe a little bit more…We deserve to be in this division from what we have done.”