Dubai: Frank Lampard’s splurging of the cash seems to have had little effect on Chelsea’s fortunes as they needed to mount a comeback to rescue a point against West Bromwich Albion, while last season’s third-placed team — Manchester United — looked equally lacklustre at Brighton.
Free-spending Chelsea were staring at another heavy loss following defeat against champions Liverpool, but salvaged a draw thanks to a back-from-the-dead escape, coming from 3-0 down to level the score at 3-3
United were grateful for an extraordinary decision to take three points from a match they never deserved to win. Brighton will have woken up on Sunday wondering how they were left empty-handed — and the answer is referee Chris Kavanagh.
The record books will show Bruno Fernandes’ 100th-minute penalty secured the win, but the final whistle had already gone, only for Kavanagh to insist the penalty be taken, much to the chagrin of Brighton’s players, who had a clear penalty overruled in the match that also saw the home side strike the woodwork five times
Meanwhile, Chelsea’s tilt for the title after spending big in the transfer market has come off the rails already. One of those new recruits, Thiago Silva, was given the captain’s armband on his Premier League debut, but the Brazilian had a nightmare first 45 minutes as the Blues’ defensive deficiencies were easily exposed.
Callum Robinson pounced on errors from Marcos Alonso and Silva to fire twice beyond Willy Caballero, who replaced liability Kepa Arrizabalaga in the Chelsea goal.
Kyle Bartley then made it 3-0 to the Baggies, who had lost their opening two games back in the top flight.
Chelsea have spent a reported 300 million pounds to try to close the gap on Liverpool and Manchester City in the title race and even a spirited second-half fightback, which takes them to just four points from their first three games, could not hide the embarrassment of his side’s defending for Lampard.
“It’s two points lost,” said Lampard. “You can have as many meetings as you want, but if you make clear mistakes, you give yourself a mountain to climb.”
Mason Mount got the comeback started to a swerving long-range effort. Substitute Callum Hudson-Odoi then swept home 20 minutes from time after a neat one-two with new boy Kai Havertz. Tammy Abraham secured a point in stoppage time when he rolled in the rebound after Sam Johnstone had parried Mount’s initial effort.
It certainly looks like two of the pre-season ‘Big Four’ are in for a long campaign yet again.