Chelsea beat 10-man Fulham but Frank Lampard is still searching for his style

Mason Mount scored to give Chelsea a 1-0 win over Fulham at Craven Cottage but there is work to do for Frank Lampard. Watch Leicester vs Chelsea live on Sky Sports Premier League and Sky Sports Main Event from 8pm on Tuesday; kick-off 8.15pm

Timo Werner replaces Olivier Giroud in Chelsea's win over Fulham
Image: Frank Lampard is chopping and changing at Chelsea in the hope of finding something that works

The Chelsea celebrations were vociferous upon the final whistle and understandably so. The pressure had been building on Frank Lampard after a run that had brought only one win in six Premier League games – with that coming before Christmas. A 1-0 win against 10-man Fulham was no emphatic return to form but the Chelsea boss will take it.

Lampard described it as "a little slump" before kick-off at Craven Cottage but a run of three consecutive away defeats dating back to November has been enough to spark speculation about his future. Whether a victory that failed to answer some of the more pertinent questions about this Chelsea team will be enough to end the chatter remains to be seen.

Three points were crucial and perhaps that is why he explained the selections of Antonio Rudiger and Olivier Giroud by referencing their experience and character. Cesar Azpilicueta was chosen over Reece James too. Only the immediate future was of import here.

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FREE TO WATCH: Highlights from Chelsea's Premier League win against Fulham

That it was the excellent Mason Mount whose late goal separated the sides and spared Lampard another inquest was also appropriate. Despite his age, the 22-year-old midfielder is the player whom Lampard has picked more than any other during his nascent managerial career.

Thanks are due but as firm as Mount's finish was - drilling home after seizing upon the loose ball that followed Ben Chilwell's left-wing cross - the conviction in the combination play was lacking. Chelsea still seem to be searching for their style, still hoping that something will click into place.

"It feels like it has been good for us," Lampard told Sky Sports when asked beforehand about the two-week wait for another Premier League game after losing to Manchester City.

"It is something we have missed all year. I had bemoaned the lack of a pre-season so the chance to work has been good - on the basics of our game, some of the team-structure stuff. I would like to see some of the results of that in the game."

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Frank Lampard was full of praise for match-winner Mason Mount

Did he really see it? The decision to go with Giroud as the central striker with Christian Pulisic and Hakim Ziyech either side of him was the latest pivot in terms of Chelsea's attacking plans - a 13th different forward combination in 18 Premier League games.

Some of that can be explained away by injury and illness. In part, it reveals the number of options at Lampard's disposal, a sign of healthy rotation. But it is also indicative of a coach still searching to find the right formula in the final third. That search goes on.

Giroud and Ziyech had started only one game together prior to this one - and Ziyech lasted only half an hour of that one before coming off injured against Leeds. It was a Chelsea line-up that lacked a little in pace with the onus on Pulisic to provide that urgency on the left.

What led to the selection of Giroud over Tammy Abraham for this game? "I get asked that a lot with Tammy and Oli - which one, why, and all that stuff," said Lampard, without really laying bare the tactical plan. They were on together by the 65th minute anyway.

Timo Werner put a clear chance wide in stoppage time at Fulham
Image: Timo Werner put a clear chance wide in stoppage time at Fulham

There remains the suspicion that Timo Werner would be preferred to both were it not for the crippling lack of confidence that is beginning to infect his performances.

Werner has now found the net only once in his last 15 appearances for club and country - and that came against League Two side Morecambe. The German had the chance to kill this game late on but missed his ninth clear-cut chance of the Premier League season.

Frank Lampard consoles Timo Werner after his late miss for Chelsea against Fulham
Image: Frank Lampard consoles Timo Werner after his late miss at Craven Cottage

Racing through on goal, his wayward effort drifted well wide of the post and that meant the Chelsea cheers were ones of relief when the referee called time on the contest soon after.

No lift for Werner, then, and no strong feeling that the fortnight of work since the previous Premier League game has brought huge progress in the team's evolution. No clarity over the line-up to lead Lampard forward, just three vital points to ease the pressure.

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Chelsea will still be outside the top six when they go to Leicester on Tuesday evening but they remain in touch. If they are to overhaul those ahead of them, they will need to do more than scramble. They will need to find the flow to their game that thus far eludes them.

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