Frank Lampard is still waiting for his first win at Stamford Bridge as Chelsea manager after his side blew a 2-0 lead to draw 2-2 at home to Sheffield United on Saturday.
Lampard’s faith in Tammy Abraham was again rewarded as his two opportunist strikes had Chelsea well on course for the three points at half-time.
But the early matches of the season have raised more questions about Chelsea’s defence than their attack, and that was the case again as the hosts collapsed after the break.
United levelled with goals at either end of the second-half from Callum Robinson and an own goal by Kurt Zouma.
Some had identified Zouma as the weak link after the 4-0 defeat away to Manchester United on the opening weekend of the season, but Lampard chose to retain the Frenchman and replace Andreas Christensen with Fikayo Tomori, who played for him on loan at Derby County last season, in naming Chelsea’s youngest-ever starting XI for a Premier League match.
The Blues’ youthful endeavour outweighed their inexperience in the first-half.
In the 19th minute Christian Pulisic fed Cesar Azpilicueta on the right. The right back’s cross was perfectly flighted for Abraham, but United goalkeeper Dean Henderson should have collected his header. Instead he lost the ball as Pulisic challenged and Abraham returned it into the empty net.
United’s overlapping centre-back play has caught the eye on their return to the top flight and almost brought an equaliser as Chris Basham spun past Emerson and crossed to the far post where Robinson dived to head inches wide.
It was an expensive miss. Two minutes before half-time, defenders John Egan and Jack O’Connell both went for the same high ball towards Abraham and O’Connell’s poor touch fell kindly for the striker to net his second despite Henderson getting a hand to his shot.
A 2-0 half-time lead at home would have been game over for the Chelsea sides Lampard played in during his prime years, but his determination to give the club’s academy graduates their chance means there will be more days of growing pains ahead.
Chelsea were caught cold in the opening seconds of the second half when United left-back Enda Stevens burrowed down the left and his low cross found Robinson unmarked to hit his first Blades goal past Kepa Arrizabalaga.
Abraham was close to his hat-trick when he met Azpilicueta’s cross with a half-volley from six yards, but Henderson reacted quickly to turn the shot aside with his right hand.
The visitors, though, were very much in the game and Stamford Bridge was getting edgy, never more so than when Stevens’ shot was deflected off Azpilicueta, Kepa changing direction just in time to fall on the ball.
Tomori blocked Robinson’s shot on the turn as the nerves jangled again, and it was no surprise when the ball ended up in Chelsea’s net a minute from time.
Tomori left Robinson’s in-swinging cross from the left and Lys Mousset and Zouma both went for the ball, which flew past the flat-footed Kepa.