Maybe Frank Lampard, who has tried to fix things, needs to accept that coaching players to deal with set-pieces requires a specialist rather than generalist.
And maybe, despite his insistence otherwise at The Hawthorns last Saturday evening, it would be worth enlisting some help from a former team-mate with such a knowledgeable.
If not then Chelsea risk wasting one of the biggest transfer splurge’s in history and Lampard’s reign will face serious questions, the feelgood feeling quickly grinding to a halt.
While Thiago Silva’s shocking error for West Brom’s second goal was the standout moment from that game – a slip that opposition fans will naturally and gleefully always zone in on – the third goal pointed to a long-standing issue that opponents have earmarked as a weak spot and are taking pleasure in exploiting with a damning regularity.
There was much to unpick from the corner but two particular issues stand out: the ease with which Kyle Bartley was allowed to roam free from Marcos Alonso’s watch and how Darnell Furlong, pictured below, was allowed so much space on the edge of the area to provide
The former was, as Lampard put it, an “individual error” that saw Alonso hooked at the break but the latter is a repeated tactical flaw for which the coaching staff accept take some blame.
In the second half there was another flaw that was punished to miserable effect last season as Cesar Azpilicueta, on as a half-time substitute for Alonso, was tasked with marking Bartley, who is six inches taller.
Bartley found it too easy to get away but even then it is hard to find much logic in one of Chelsea’s shorter players continuously marking the tallest opponents.
Did they not learn anything from West Ham away last season when Tomas Soucek beat Azpilicueta in the air twice to find the net (although the first was ruled out by VAR)?
The head coach and his back-room staff are clearly struggling to find an effective solution to their multi-dimensional flakiness from corners but it is not for the want of trying.
Chelsea started last season using a zonal system but after Lille’s Victor Oshimen scored from close-range in the Champions League, Lampard moved to a hybrid where players closer to goal continue to mind a zone and those further out picked up specific attackers.
That second wall still proved flimsy but, as the Azpilicueta example shows, there are clear flaws in the set-up. Lampard spoke last season of needing more height but in that case why not move Tammy Abraham off the line?
It is worth noting that Chelsea are now committing everyone back to defend – a strength in numbers approach copied from Manchester City – but they remain weak, especially from second balls.
That is how Bartley’s goal came about on Saturday evening and it is how half of those conceded last season were scored. Opponents have known of the weakness for months and even the newly-promoted teams are finding plenty of success.
Will it look different against Crystal Palace this Saturday with Mendy in goal?