Arsenal vs Chelsea: Lampard explores new depths as Gunners tops the Premier League table.
PREMIER LEAGUE

Arsenal vs Chelsea: Lampard explores new depths as Gunners tops the Premier League table.

Arsenal vs Chelsea: Lampard explores new depths as Gunners tops the Premier League table.

LONDON — Frank, what was the objective here? What was the query for which the response was to “send a rusty Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang out on a hiding to nothing at his former home?”

Aubameyang is not in Chelsea’s immediate, intermediate, or long-term plans.

If you believe the club’s claims that they were considering firing Thomas Tuchel weeks before they actually did so, Chelsea’s No. 9 was nothing more than a practical joke on their former head coach.

Through little to no fault of his own — neither Graham Potter nor Lampard have ever been less than complimentary of his training ground demeanor — he has become the symbol of this most calamitous season.

“You’re going down,” the Emirates chanted. At the rate Chelsea is falling, it is prudent not to completely rule out the possibility that one of the club’s greatest-ever players could lead them to the lower division.

If Lampard’s team loses to Nottingham Forest and Bournemouth, his tenure will likely be rendered futile in multiple ways.

With a bloated squad, no realistic chance of winning a trophy, and routes into Europe for next season quickly drying up, it appeared that Lampard could not harm his reputation as a potential Premier League manager for next season and beyond.

Nonetheless, like one of his trademark driven goals through a crowded penalty area, he found a way.

As he is not the first victim of the garbage conflagration that is Chelsea 2022-23, he may discover that this favor for Todd Boehly is a black mark on his resume.

The best case scenario is that this is the lowest point for both sides. Certainly, the interim head coach gave the impression of a man bewildered to see his team fall to such a low level, who has no choice but to select the players who are attempting.

Indeed, he seemed to imply that some of the individuals he had been selecting lacked the fundamental fitness required to compete with this opponent.

“If you haven’t been conditioning on Wednesday and Thursday, you won’t be doing it on Saturday,” Lampard explained. “When they become you as a collective, there is no overnight transformation. Currently, this is the case.

“I am in no way questioning the players’ masculinity, but you must be combative during the week in order to be an aggressive player on the field. That must be your responsibility. We are not that as a collective entity.

There can be many reasons, some excuses, and some [reasons] are very legitimate, such as players entering the Premier League during a difficult time for their team. This division is the most difficult in the world.”

Chelsea surely makes it appear that way. Where would they be without Tuchel for the first six games, in which they earned 10 points?

You could tell the story of Chelsea’s rapid decline through their last four matches against Arsenal, or five if you include last year’s preseason friendly in Orlando, where Tuchel concluded that something fundamental was awry.

The last time Chelsea visited the Emirates Stadium, they dominated Arsenal with their superior game control and Romelu Lukaku’s authority.

Two losses at Stamford Bridge left Chelsea embroiled in crises caused by their owner, Roman Abramovich’s sanctions and Boehly’s spending.

As this catastrophic season comes to a close, the visitors were fortunate to lose by only 3-1.

The introductory passage set the tone for this game. Jakub Kiwior, who quickly overcame a sluggish start, passed the ball to Chelsea with a heavy touch.

Enzo Fernandez did nothing constructive with the ball and blasted an audacious shot direct at an Arsenal defender. Within seconds, Bukayo Saka was racing up the field.

The hosts were not so flawless that it was impossible for a superior opponent to take something from the game, but Chelsea simply had no answers for Arsenal.

Granit Xhaka spotted Martin Odegaard outside the penalty area in a chasm of space.

No one in a blue uniform noticed until it was too late, when the Arsenal captain bent the ball in off the crossbar for his 21st Premier League goal contribution of the season.

He is currently in the same stratosphere as Robert Pires at his peak. Soon after, he scored his 22nd goal, one less than Invincibles legend Pires, on another Xhaka cross to his unmarked captain.

There are aspects of Chelsea’s performance for which Lampard is solely responsible. The bewilderment of Chelsea’s technical staff said it all; these were elementary errors that no coach should have to admonish players to avoid.

Wesley Fofana, Cesar Azpilicueta, Thiago Silva, and Kepa Arrizabalaga all fell to the ground as Gabriel Jesus floated the ball into the net as Chelsea concluded with a flourish of errors. By the halftime mark, Aubameyang had nine touches. There were four kickoffs.

One of them was in the Arsenal half and promptly kicked the ball out of play to the jeers of the Emirates. When Raheem Sterling played through passes into empty spaces, it’s no surprise he missed out on opportunities.

The last time they lost to Arsenal was well before the World Cup, and neither of these players had started a game since. It is not surprising that they were on such different paths.

Arsenal vs Chelsea: Lampard explores new depths as Gunners tops the Premier League table.